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US Navy veteran sentenced by Iran to 10 years in prison, lawyer says

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Meng Tao/Xinhua/Zuma Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The lawyer of a U.S. Navy veteran detained in Iran says his client has been given a 10-year prison sentence.

Washington-based lawyer Mark Zaid told AP that Michael White was convicted of insulting Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and posting private information online.

White was the first American known to be detained in Iran since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017.

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Zaid said the U.S. State Department had informed him of the sentence for White, who is 46 years old. The State Department had been given the news by the Swiss government, which oversees U.S. interests in Iran.

Iranian state media have not reported on the sentence.

White, who is from California, reportedly went to Iran in July 2018 to see a woman he had met online. He had booked a July 27 return flight but did not make that flight after being detained.

On March 11, an Iranian prosecutor, Gholamali Sadeqi, said that White was facing unspecified “security charges.”

In January, White’s mother, Joanne White, called on Iranian officials to release her son because she said he had cancer and urgently needed treatment.

At least five other U.S. citizens are being held in Iran, with whom the United States has not had diplomatic relations since 1980.