U.S. Releases American Journalist Working for Iranian State TV

An American journalist for the Iranian government’s Press TV was released late Wednesday after her 10-day long detention in federal custody provoked outrage in the U.S. and Iran, Guardian writes.

FBI agents arrested Marzieh Hashemi, an American citizen, at St Louis airport on 13 January. She was held as a material witness in an unspecified criminal proceeding, according to documents unsealed by the Department of Justice on Friday.

Hashemi’s detention prompted concerns about the potential first amendment issues of detaining a journalist, as well as religious liberty issues as she, a practicing Muslim, was reportedly denied Halal food and had her hijab forcibly removed.

“Marzieh and her family will not allow this to be swept under the carpet,” the woman’s family said in a statement shortly after her release. They “still have serious grievances [and] they want assurances that this won’t happen to any Muslim – or any other person – ever again.”

Hashemi has not been charged with any crime and appeared before a federal grand jury at least three times. U.S. law allows the government to arrest and hold so-called “material witnesses” if a judge agrees that the individual has information that is important to a criminal proceeding and may flee if simply subpoenaed to appear in court.

Her son, Hossein Hashemi-Niasari, a graduate student at the University of Colorado, confirmed in a text message the accuracy of a Press TV report that she had been released after providing a third round of testimony to the grand jury on Wednesday afternoon, The New York Times reported.

Press TV also published a statement from Hashemi’s family that said she would remain in Washington for a planned protest on Friday to condemn her treatment.

Her release follows intense protests in Tehran, where journalists gathered earlier on Wednesday to call the detention “illegal” and a “violation of human rights.”

“This shows, for sure, to be a flagrant violation of human rights, a violation of domestic rights, a violation of freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. There is no doubt about that,” said Seyed Mostafa Khoshcheshm, a political analyst in Tehran, according to the Tasnim news agency. The comments came alongside a joint statement from three major Iranian journalist associations condemning the detention.

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