Iran holding jailed Americans for leverage, sources say

Rouhani speaks during a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan after their meeting in Ankara Turkey

Ghasemi said White has not been abused or mistreated, calling the former prisoner's allegations "psychological warfare", according to the AP.

White's imprisonment could further worsen relations between Washington and Tehran, longtime foes. He met her online about four or five years ago, and he had visited her four times over the last few years, Joanne White said.

"An American Citizen, named Michael White was arrested a while ago in the city of Mashhad", the spokesperson for Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

"Due to privacy considerations, we have no additional information to provide at this time", the representative said.

Switzerland represents US diplomatic interests in the country, as ties between the USA and Iran were cut after Tehran held American diplomats hostage.

"I'm very anxious about his health", White's mother told CBS on Tuesday.

She and her husband, who have been married for nearly 15 years, have discussed divorce, she said, but she was hoping they had strengthened their relationship in the past six months as she helped him through chemotherapy. She filed a missing-person report and had been communicating with the State Department and Department of Homeland Security. She called them when her husband did not return home, she said.

White's arrest follows Trump's May exit from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal and reimposition of economic sanctions on the country in an attempt to get Iran back to the bargaining table. White at Iran's Vakilabad Prison in the city of Mashhad.

"We have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas".

His family say he suffers from acute asthma and shortly before his latest visit he underwent chemotherapy for a neck tumour.

He also re-imposed sanctions past year that damaged Iran's economy.

Several Americans have been detained in Iran in recent years and Mr Trump warned in 2017 that Tehran would face "new and serious consequences" unless all unjustly held United States citizens were freed.

The prisoner issue has long added to the tensions between Iran and the United States.

In 2007, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, Robert Levinson, went missing in Iran.

Tensions have been high since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of a landmark nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed crippling economic sanctions against Tehran previous year.

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