American journalist who works for Iranian TV held as material witness

19 Janvier, 2019, 01:22 | Auteur: Christine Menetries
  • A woman weeps while a video clip is shown about an American-born news anchor working for Iranian state television's English-language service Marzieh Hashemi during a press briefing by Paiman Jebeli deputy chief of Iran's state IRIB broadcaste

Iran has called for the immediate release of TV anchor and documentary filmmaker Marziyeh Hashemi, whose employer, the English-language channel Press TV, said was arrested on Sunday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at St Louis Lambert International Airport.

The woman, who was born in the USA as Melanie Franklin, is expected to be released from a Washington, D.C. detention facility after she testifies before "a grand jury investigating violations of USA criminal law", the court document released Friday said.

Federal officials confirmed on Friday that a prominent American-born anchorwoman on Iranian state television was jailed in the USA as a material witness and has not been charged with any crime, according to court papers.

Press TV said Marzieh Hashemi's court appearance is Friday. Hashemi has not been accused of any crime and the USA government anticipates her release immediately after the completion of her testimony before a grand jury that is investigating violations of US law.

She has been appointed an attorney, according to the order, and she has appeared before a U.S. District Judge twice.

Once she finishes testifying before a grand jury that's investigating violations of a US criminal law, the government expects that she'll be released, the order said.

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It is not immediately clear what case Hashemi's testimony is of interest.

However, Hashemi's lawyer, Preston Burton, said, "we expect that she will soon return to her family, her home, and her career".

Hashemi was born in New Orleans with the name Melanie Franklin.

The U.S. government on Friday acknowledged for the first time that it secretly arrested an Iranian journalist earlier this week, demanding she testify to a federal grand jury as part of a federal probe that still remains a mystery. She's a citizen of both the US and Iran.

"The custody of Iran's reporter in the U.S.is highly political and she should be released immediately", Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by the Islamic Republic News Agency.

Federal law allows judges to order witnesses to be detained if the government can prove that their testimony has extraordinary value for a criminal case and that they would be a flight risk and unlikely to respond to a subpoena.

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