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By The Associated Press and Kalhan Rosenblatt
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A U.S. Navy veteran held in Iran, the first American known to be detained since President Donald Trump took office, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, his U.S.-based lawyer said Saturday.
Mark Zaid told The Associated Press that Michael White was convicted on charges of insulting Iran’s supreme leader and posting private information.
Zaid says he learned of the sentence from the State Department, which in turn learned of it from the Swiss government, which looks over American interests in Iran.
In an email to NBC News, Zaid said he has not had direct contact with White.
“After receiving news of the conviction we’re in the process of hiring a local Iranian attorney to pursue whatever appeals exist. It’s unclear at this time whether Michael is simply an unfortunate foreigner caught in a very different legal system or being used as a political pawn,” Zaid said.
Iranian state media have not reported the sentence, which was first reported by The New York Times.
White, of Imperial Beach, California, went to Iran to see a girlfriend he met online and had booked a July 27 flight back home. He never returned.
Trump has pursued a maximalist campaign against Tehran that includes America’s withdrawal from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers. Iran has in the past detained Westerners and dual nationals to use them as leverage in negotiations.