American held in Iran faces “private complaint” – prosecutor

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DUBAI (Reuters) – An American held in Iran faces a complaint filed against him while authorities probe possible security charges against the ex-Marine, an Iranian prosecutor was quoted on Friday as saying, in a case that risks further worsening ties with Washington.

“There is a private complaint against him,” the semi-official news agency Mehr quoted Gholamali Sadeqi, prosecutor in the northeastern city of Mashhad as saying when asked about the detention of Michael White.

Sadeqi did not give details of the complaint. In the past, “private complaints” filed by the Revolutionary Guards or other security bodies have led to arrests of activists and closure of newspapers.

Asked whether White faced security-linked accusations, Sadeqi said: “This is being investigated … This case is in the process of investigations and the results will be announced when this is completed.”

Iran confirmed White’s arrest earlier this month on unspecified charges after the New York Times reported that White, a 46-year-old U.S. Navy veteran, was arrested in July while visiting northeastern to meet his Iranian girlfriend.

The case is likely to further worsen relations with the United States. President Donald Trump withdrew from an international agreement Iran’s nuclear programme and re-imposed sanctions last year that hit the Iranian economy hard.

Several Americans have been detained in Iran in recent years and Trump warned in 2017 that Tehran would face “new and serious consequences” unless all unjustly held U.S. citizens were freed.

White’s mother told the New York Times that her son, a California resident, suffers acute asthma and had undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatment for a neck tumour.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Kim Coghill

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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