The family of a U.S. Navy veteran says that he has been held for months in an Iranian prison after authorities in the country seized him in July, The New York Times reported on Monday.
Michael White’s mother told the Times that State Department officials told her several weeks ago that her son is being detained in a prison in Iran.
“All I know is that he is alive and they were putting in a request for a consular visit by the Swiss,” Joanne White told the newspaper.
Joanne White said her son had visited Iran “five or six times” to see his Iranian girlfriend. He was set to return from Iran in July but never boarded his flight, prompting his mother to file a missing persons report.
“We are aware of reports of the detention of a U.S. citizen in Iran,” the State Department said in a statement to the Times. “We have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens abroad. Due to privacy considerations, we have no additional information to provide at this time.”
At least five other Americans are currently detained in Iran, according to CNN.
White’s imprisonment comes during a period of strained relations between Tehran and Washington, with the U.S. recently reimposing severe sanctions on Iran. The sanctions, which were reinstated following President Trump‘s decision to leave the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, have hurt the country’s economy.
White’s mother noted that he had undergone chemotherapy for a neck tumor before he left for Iran and suffers from asthma.