White, right, is seen with his mother, Joanne White, in 2018.
A US Navy veteran has been sentenced to 10 years in an Iranian prison, his family's lawyer said, after he was arrested last July while visiting an Iranian woman in the city of Mashhad.
The State Department was informed of the sentencing by Swiss diplomats who represent U.S. interests in Iran, according to Zaid, who said White has not been allowed to communicate directly with his family.
Zaid said that White was facing two separate charges, one of which was insulting Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.More news: Kartarpur Corridor talks: ‘Sea of difference between Pakistan announcement and actual offer’
The New York Times, which first reported the sentencing, said White had been given two court hearings, on March 6 and March 9.
White is the first US national to be imprisoned in Iran since US President Donald Trump took office in 2016 and will likely add tension to an already troubled bilateral relation. The second charge appears to have been leveled after White uploaded a picture of himself sitting with the woman, an Iranian national, Zaid said.
White's mother, Joanne White, told the paper she fears that her son is in failing health. She added that he had been undergoing treatment for a neck tumor and has asthma.
Michael White, who used to serve in the aviation maintenance administration in the Navy before his retirement, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Monday, the American's lawyer, Mark Zaid, told media. It remains hard for Americans to get visas to Iran, 40 years after the Islamic Revolution and the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis.More news: According to math, Anthem’s current loot grind is pointless
The family and the State Department were still trying to determine whether the charges were politically motivated or the result of a criminal prosecution, Zaid said.
There are three other Americans known to be held in Iran.
Iranian authorities have not released details of the charges. Chinese-American graduate student Xiyue Wang was sentenced to 10 years in prison for allegedly "infiltrating" the country while doing doctoral research on Iran's Qajar dynasty.
Also in an Iranian prison is Nizar Zakka, a USA permanent resident from Lebanon who advocated for internet freedom and has done work for the US government.More news: Guardiola: We could cope with transfer ban
Another charge he was facing is linked to him posting private information online, which is punishable by law in Iran.