NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A distinguished American anchorwoman on Iranian state tv has been arrested by the FBI throughout a go to to the U.S., the broadcaster reported Wednesday, and her son mentioned she was being held in a jail, apparently as a fabric witness.
Marzieh Hashemi, who labored for the community’s English-language service, was detained in St. Louis, the place she had filmed a Black Lives Matter documentary after visiting family within the New Orleans space. She was then taken to Washington, in response to her elder son, Hossein Hashemi.
The FBI mentioned in an e-mail that it had no touch upon the arrest of the girl who was born Melanie Franklin in New Orleans and has labored for Iran’s state tv community for 25 years.
Hossein Hashemi mentioned his mom lives in Tehran and comes again to this nation about every year to see her household, normally scheduling documentary work someplace within the U.S. as properly.
“We nonetheless don’t know what’s occurring,” mentioned Hashemi, a analysis fellow on the College of Colorado who was interviewed by cellphone from Washington. He additionally mentioned he and his siblings had been subpoenaed to look earlier than a grand jury.
The incident comes as Iran faces rising criticism of its personal arrests of twin residents and different folks with Western ties. These circumstances have beforehand been used as bargaining chips in negotiations with world powers.
Federal legislation permits judges to order witnesses to be arrested and detained if the federal government can show their testimony has extraordinary worth for a felony case and that they’d be a flight threat and unlikely to reply to a subpoena. The statute usually requires these witnesses to be promptly launched as soon as they’re deposed.
Marzieh Hashemi, an American citizen, had not been contacted by the FBI earlier than she was detained and would “completely” have been prepared to cooperate with the company, her son mentioned.
Requested whether or not his mom had been concerned in any felony exercise or knew anybody who is likely to be implicated in a criminal offense, Hashemi mentioned, “We don’t have any info alongside these traces.”
Hashemi mentioned his mom was arrested as she was about to board a flight from St. Louis to Denver. A spokesman for St. Louis Lambert Worldwide Airport declined to remark and referred inquiries to the FBI.
The constitutionality of the fabric witness legislation has “by no means been meaningfully examined,” mentioned Ricardo J. Bascuas, a professor on the College of Miami College of Legislation. “The federal government solely depends on it once they want a motive to arrest any person however they don’t have one.”
Regardless of the rationale for Marzieh Hashemi’s detention, she ought to have been granted a courtroom look by now, Bascuas mentioned.
She apparently was unable to name her daughter till Tuesday night time. The household is attempting to rent an lawyer, however it has been troublesome as a result of she has not been charged with a criminal offense, her son mentioned.
Iran’s state broadcaster held a information convention and launched a hashtag marketing campaign for Hashemi, utilizing the identical strategies households with family members held within the Islamic Republic use to spotlight their circumstances.
“We won’t spare any authorized motion” to assist her, mentioned Paiman Jebeli, deputy chief of Iran’s state IRIB broadcaster. Iran’s Press TV aired footage of her anchoring information applications and discussing the warfare in Syria, set to dramatic music.
There have been no references to any case in opposition to Hashemi in U.S. federal courts, nor in Missouri.
Hashemi describes herself on-line as having studied journalism at Louisiana State College in Baton Rouge. She transformed to Islam in 1982 at age 22 after assembly Iranian activist college students in Denver.
She married a person she met whereas in journalism college. That they had two sons and a daughter. Her husband is lifeless, mentioned Hashemi’s brother, Milton Leroy Franklin of the New Orleans suburb of Metairie.
Final week, Iran confirmed it’s holding U.S. Navy veteran Michael R. White at a jail, making him the primary American recognized to be detained below President Donald Trump’s administration.
Iranian International Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi advised state TV that Hashemi’s arrest signifies the “apartheid and racist coverage” of the Trump administration.
“We hope that the harmless individual will probably be launched with none situation,” Ghasemi mentioned.
At the very least 4 different Americans are being held in Iran, together with Iranian-American Siamak Namazi and his 82-year-old father, Baquer, each serving 10-year sentences on espionage prices. Iranian-American artwork seller Karan Vafadari and his Iranian spouse, Afarin Neyssari, obtained 27-year and 16-year jail sentences, respectively. Chinese language-American graduate pupil Xiyue Wang was sentenced to 10 12 months in jail.
Additionally in an Iranian jail is Nizar Zakka, a everlasting U.S. resident from Lebanon who advocated for web freedom and has achieved work for the U.S. authorities. He was sentenced to 10 years on espionage-related prices.
Former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished in Iran in 2007 whereas on an unauthorized CIA mission, stays lacking as properly. Iran says that Levinson isn’t within the nation and that it has no additional details about him. His household holds Tehran liable for his disappearance.
Related Press writers Michael Balsamo in Washington, Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Jim Salter in St. Louis, Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas Metropolis and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.