Imprisoned Navy Veteran’s Family Claim Iranian Authorities Beat Him Up

Michael R. White, the Navy veteran imprisoned in Iran since July, was beaten after his arrest, has no money to hire a lawyer and still does not know what charges have been filed against him, his mother said Monday.

Joanne White also said that her son, a former cancer patient, had been taken to a court at least twice and that his health was deteriorating, The New York Times writes.

A family spokesman, Jonathan Franks, said a GoFundMe page had been started to raise funds for White’s legal representation in Iran. White learned of her son’s travails after diplomats from the Swiss Embassy in Tehran visited him on Feb. 6 at the prison where he has been held, in the northeast city of Mashhad. The Swiss Embassy represents American interests in Iran.

It was the first time the Swiss had been able to see White since he was seized in Mashhad last July and taken to Vakilabad Prison, after having visited a person his family has described as an Iranian girlfriend. He has still not been able to communicate directly with his family, the Times add.

White, 47, of Imperial Beach, Calif., served in the Navy for 13 years. He is the first American to be incarcerated in Iran since President Trump took office in 2017, adding a complication to what already was a severely strained relationship between the United States and Iran.

He is one of at least four Americans known to be held in Iran, where the government has regarded the United States as its top enemy since the Islamic revolution that overthrew the shah 40 years ago.

“Over the past few weeks. I’ve learned that Mike was badly beaten when he was arrested and that he has been taken to court at least twice for proceedings in Farsi that he couldn’t understand. My son is not well. His health is deteriorating, and I want him back so I can get him the care he badly needs,” White said.

Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for Iran’s United Nations Mission, confirmed in an email that the Swiss had met with Mr. White and that another meeting was planned in “coming days.”

Miryousefi also said that Iran’s judiciary had provided medicine needed by White, despite increased prices caused by American sanctions.

“We can assuredly say that White is being treated humanely and in the best possible conditions given the criminal complaint against him. We also hope, along with his family, that his case is speedily adjudicated by the judiciary that is in charge,” he said.

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