The government confirms that it has detained as a witness a journalist who works in Iran



Tom Jackman

Reporter covering criminal justice at local and national level.

The US government UU She confirmed Friday that she has been imprisoning a US-born journalist who works in Iran, in jail since Sunday as a "material witness" in a case in a federal court in Washington and will be released after she testifies before a grand jury.

No date was given for the testimony and no information was disclosed about the nature of the case in a two-page court that he presented on unsealed Friday.

Marzieh Hashemi, 59, has been a live producer and presenter for Press TV in Iran for 25 years. She is a US citizen, said her family. Press TV is a network in English based in Tehran and supervised by the Iranian government.

Hashemi periodically returns to the United States to visit his family. She had been working on a documentary about Black Lives Matter in St. Louis, her family said, and was arrested by the FBI for a witness injunction when she arrived at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis before a flight to Denver to visit her. . adult children She was then transferred to Washington and apparently detained in the D.C. jail, her family said.

The FBI refused to acknowledge the arrest until Friday and his case in court is sealed. An unsealed court order on Friday said Hashemi, who is also referred to in his submission by his birth name, Melanie Franklin, has not been charged with any crime.

The material guarantees of the witnesses are rare. Hashemi's case is the first to be filed with a federal court in Washington this year, and the court's electronic record system indicates that only two of those cases were filed last year. Both are under seal.

His son Hossein Hashemi, a researcher at the University of Colorado, told The Washington Post on Friday that he, his mother and two of his brothers had been summoned to appear in US District Court. UU In Washington, but he said he did not know the subject. . He said that neither his mother nor any of his family had testified and that "we do not anticipate that he will leave today".

"She has been very critical of certain official policies that the United States has taken," said Hossein Hashemi, "both nationally and internationally." We do not think any of that will lead to his arrest. "He said his mother would have cooperated with the FBI if they had simply asked to question her.

Hashemi's lawyer, Preston Burton, said: "The perseverance of Marzieh Hashemi has been remarkable in the midst of difficult circumstances, and it is my privilege to represent her." She is encouraged by the many expressions of concern for her well-being, and we hope that she will soon return with his family, his home and his career. "

Press TV said that US authorities treated Hashemi disrespectfully, who apparently took off his hat and fed him pork, which is banned in the Muslim religion. Hashemi converted to the Muslim faith and moved to Iran decades ago, Press TV said.

On Friday, the Justice Department issued an order signed by Beryl Howell, chief judge of the federal court of the District of Columbia. Howell's order said that Hashemi had been arrested in a material witness order issued by a district judge in Washington and that she had been named a lawyer.

Howell's order said that Hashemi had appeared before a judge twice while he was represented by a lawyer. The judge said the government hoped to release her "immediately after completing her testimony before a grand jury investigating violations of the US criminal law." The grand juries met on Friday, although it was not immediately clear if Hashemi testified or completed his testimony.

The order does not specify which Department of Justice office is involved in the case that is being investigated.

Hashemi was in court on Friday, as were several members of the family.

The orders of material witnesses were used to detain potential witnesses or suspects after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the witnesses were released shortly after their testimony was heard. But an badysis by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union in 2005 found that the government had considered 70 men as potential witnesses and almost half were never called to testify.

The report concluded that the use of the orders was excessive and, often, illegal because many of the detainees were never interrogated by a grand jury or denied access to lawyers for long periods of time. Most were never charged with a crime, according to the report.

Last week, Iran confirmed that it is holding US Navy veteran Michael R. White in prison, making it the first known American to be held there under President Trump's administration, according to the Associated Press.

At least four other US citizens are detained in Iran.

The AP report also said that Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told state television that Hashemi's arrest indicates the Trump administration's "apartheid and racist policy." "We hope that the innocent person will be released without any condition," Ghasemi said.


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