The Financial Express

US arrests journalist working for Iran's state TV

Iranian broadcaster says Marzieh Hashemi was arrested after landing at St Louis International Airport

| Updated: January 18, 2019 18:09:45

Marzieh Hashemi -Photo: Wikimedia Marzieh Hashemi -Photo: Wikimedia

US police have arrested an American-born journalist working for Iran’s English-language Press TV on unspecified charges from an airport in Missouri, a mid western state of USA.

The 59-year-old journalist, Marziyeh Hashemi, was arrested upon her arrival at St. Louis Lambert International Airport on Sunday, report Reuters and Al Jazeera quoting the broadcaster on Wednesday.

Later, she was transferred by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to a detention facility in Washington DC.

No formal charges had been made against her. FBI officials were not immediately available for comment.

Hashemi, a TV anchor and documentary film maker, was in the United States to visit her family, the broadcaster said, and was allowed to call her daughter two days after her arrest.

According to Press TV, Hashemi was born Melanie Franklin in the United States and changed her name after converting to Islam.

She was quoted as saying by Press TV that she had been prevented from observing the Islamic dress code, hijab, in prison, and she was only offered pork as a meal, which is prohibited in Islam.

The only food she has had over the past two days has been a 'packet of crackers,' Hashemi was quoted as saying by Press TV.

This account of her treatment could not be verified independently.

Hashemi had been living in Iran for more than a decade, various Iranian media said.

She has filed several reports on the subject of discrimination against women, Muslims, and African-Americans in the United States.

Press TV is affiliated with Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, a state-owned but independent broadcaster of the Iranian government and the only legal TV and radio broadcaster inside Iran.

An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman on Wednesday called for her immediate release.

"We condemn the illegal arrest of Marzieh Hashemi, the reporter and presenter of Press TV, and the inhumane treatment of her in jail in Washington," Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

Piling on pressure

Hashemi's reported arrest comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US.

During his recent trip through the Middle East, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US is "redoubling" its efforts to put pressure on Iran, accusing it of destabilising the region.

Pompeo vowed to "expel every last Iranian boot" from Syria and urged regional rivals to come together to confront Iran.

US President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear accord last year and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran, even as other partners in the deal - including China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom - have sought to maintain it.

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