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Jailed US Citizen Detained Due to "Private Complaint"

January 25, 2019
IranWire
2 min read
Jailed US Citizen Detained Due to "Private Complaint"

Iranian prosecutor Gholam Ali Sadeghi has told Iran’s Mehr News Agency that the reason for US prisoner Michael White’s arrest and continued imprisonment is “a private complaint.” Michael White, from San Diego county in California, has been held in Vakilabad Prison in Mashad in northeast Iran since July 2018. 

Sadeghi, the prosecutor for Mashhad, did not provide further details about the nature of the complaint, but added that his office was also investigating “security” charges against the American citizen. Although he did not elaborate further on what the security charges entail, Iranian courts regularly charge Iranian and non-Iranian citizens on such charges, which can include anything from terrorism and sabotage to publishing an article or taking part in peaceful protests. 

Mousa Barzin, IranWire’s legal expert, says that Iran’s Islamic Penal Code allows security forces to arrest and jail a person based on a private complaint if the individual is accused of murder, causing injury, insult (especially sexual insults), and other offences. “Mr. White was definitely not arrested because of a security threat because he had a ‘private’ complainant,” Barzin says. “If someone causes a security threat, then the charge is not private and the prosecutor is the complainant on behalf of the public." 

According to recent amendments to Iran’s criminal procedure, individuals can be detained only when they have been accused of committing serious crimes — such as murder and threatening people with a weapon — or if the accused person flees the country after facing charges but is not yet in detention. The maximum period for the detention of someone suspected to have committed murder is two years and the maximum period for other accusations and charges is one year. "It is important to note that Iranian laws caution against detention and the authorities must have solid evidence that someone has committed a crime in order to detain that person,” says Barzin. “But in the absence of real information about the circumstances of White’s arrest, it is very difficult to judge whether his arrest was in accordance with Iranian laws or not.”


Read more about Michael White’s arrest and detention 

 

 

 

 

 

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