The attorney for imprisoned Navy veteran Michael White said he is concerned for his client’s health but “hopeful” Iran will release him to the U.S. so he can be with his family.
“He’s actually quite ill. He’s had cancer and other illnesses and we’re concerned that’s going to revive itself in his system. So we’re hopeful that the Iranians will release him so he can come back home to his family,” attorney Mark Zaid told Fox News’s America’s Newsroom on Monday.
White, 47, of San Diego, California, was sentenced to two years in prison for allegedly insulting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and ten years in prison for posting private information online.
The lawyer told the New York Times he believes the sentences should run concurrently, meaning that White’s sentence should amount to a total of ten years in prison.
White’s family said Michael, who had served in the U.S. Navy for 13 years, traveled to Iran to visit his girlfriend in July when he was detained.
Zaid said he has not been able to reach his client but is hoping to get his mother in contact with him.
The U.S. does not have an embassy in Iran, but the Swiss government has a U.S. interests section where U.S. citizens in Iran can attempt to request assistance from the U.S. State Department.
“He’s in the north … as I understand it in Iran, in a regular prison not a sort of state security prison which is also a good sign but the lack of diplomatic representation makes it very difficult for us to have any level of communication with him,” Zaid said.
Iran has gained a reputation of arresting foreigners who visit the country on security charges, with government officials later convicting these foreign nationals of conspiracy for spying against Iran.
Zaid said he is unsure whether the U.S.’s tumultuous relationship with Iran is making it more difficult for him to get the government to release White to the U.S.
“It’s hard to tell at this point whether or not this is just an American whose unfortunately caught in a foreign legal system that is so different from us or is he a pawn in the dire U.S/Iran foreign relationship,” Zaid said.