U.S. veteran reportedly held prisoner in Iran for months

Vakilabad prison in Mashhad

White, 46, was detained in Iran after visiting his Iranian girlfriend, his mother told the New York Times on Monday.

In the absence of relations, the Swiss Embassy represents USA diplomatic interests in Iran.

His mother, Joanne White, told the newspaper the 46-year-old veteran went to Iran to see his girlfriend and had booked a July 27 flight back home to San Diego via the United Arab Emirates. She said she filed a missing-person report after her son failed to return to work in California as planned in late July. "Due to privacy considerations, we have no additional information to provide at this time", the official said. He's been over there three or four times without any issues.

She said she is anxious about his health, because he has had cancer and suffers from asthma.

The US State Department said on Tuesday it was aware of reports of the detention of a US citizen held in Iran for more than six months, amid heightened tensions between the countries following the reimposition of US sanctions.

He was visiting a woman whom he said was his girlfriend, she said.

Relations between the two countries deteriorated sharply previous year when US President Donald Trump withdrew from an global accord on ending Iran´s nuclear program and imposed sweeping sanctions.

She said that she learned from the State Department that he was imprisoned in Iran on unclear charges.

Joanne White told the New York Times that State Department officials had told her they were seeking access to her son via the Swiss consulate, as the US does not have formal diplomatic ties with Iran.

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The manager said White's wife moved out five months ago after she stopped paying rent for two months and her husband disappeared.

She and her husband, who have been married for nearly 15 years, have discussed divorce, she said, but she was hoping they had strengthened their relationship in the past six months as she helped him through his chemotherapy.

Siamak Namazi, and his father, Baquer Namazi, are Iranian-Americans who have been detained since October 2015 and February 2016, respectively.

Word of White's detention comes amid an already tense relationship between the USA and Iran.

USA officials have also pushed Iran for information about the whereabouts of Robert Levinson, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and Central Intelligence Agency contractor who went missing in Iran in 2007.

The New York Times noted that Iran did not acknowledge the arrest of Wang until July 2017.

A former detainee in Iran, Ivar Farhadi, told the London-based IranWire website he had spoken to White when they were both at Vakilabad Prison in the city of Mashhad in northeastern Iran.

The last time prisoners were released by the Iranian regime was after the nuclear accord took effect in 2016.

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