Iran confirmed on Wednesday that it has arrested and detained 46-year-old U.S. Navy veteran Michael White, marking the first detainment of an American under President Trump. The Associated Press reports that the arrest was announced by an Iranian news agency, which cited Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi. “An American citizen was arrested in the city of Mashhad some time ago and his case was conveyed to the U.S administration on the first days,” Ghasemi reportedly said. On Monday, The New York Times reported that White has allegedly been missing since July 27, 2018, when he failed to board a flight out of Iran bound for the United Arab Emirates. White’s mother told the Times that White was in the country to visit his Iranian girlfriend. About three weeks ago, she added, State Department officials told her that White had been arrested.
“All I know is that he is alive and they were putting in a request for a consular visit by the Swiss,” she said. The Post notes that Switzerland has represented the United States in Iran since the hostage crisis in the late 70s and early 80s. The announcement comes as tensions have escalated between the U.S. and Tehran: Hours before the announcement, Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that U.S. policy was determined by “first-class idiots.”