Tehran Summons Swiss Ambassador, Demand Release of Marzieh Hashemi in U.S. Custody

Published January 23rd, 2019 - 08:04 GMT
Protest in show of solidarity to the detained Journalist, Marzieh Hashemi (Twitter)
Protest in show of solidarity to the detained Journalist, Marzieh Hashemi (Twitter)

The Swiss ambassador to Tehran was summoned by Iran's foreign ministry on Tuesday to demand the unconditional and immediate release of a state television journalist detained in the United States.

A note of complaint was issued to the ambassador for Switzerland over the "inhuman and discriminatory" detention of Iranian citizen and Press TV reporter Marzieh Hashemi, Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said.

"Her immediate and unconditional release was demanded" at the meeting with the ambassador, Ghasemi added.

The Swiss embassy in Tehran handles US interests in the Islamic republic after the two countries broke off relations following the 1979 Islamic revolution.


US-born Hashemi, who works for Iran's English-language Press TV, was arrested on arrival at St Louis Lambert International Airport on January 13, according to family and friends cited by Press TV.

Hashemi, a Black Muslim convert who changed her name from Melanie Franklin, had reportedly been visiting her ill brother and other family members.

On Friday, a US court confirmed the arrest, saying her testimony was required over an unspecified case but that she was not accused of a crime.

At a hearing in Washington, a judge ordered the partial unsealing of an order on Hashemi.

The court said Hashemi was arrested on "a material arrest warrant" and would be let go after she gave testimony to a grand jury investigating unspecified "violations of US criminal law".

On Thursday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif described the detention as a "political action" by the United States that "tramples on freedom of speech" and demanded she be set free.

"The US govt needs to explain how Marzieh Hasehmi - a journalist and grandmother - is such a flight risk that she must be incarcerated until she finished her testimony to a grand jury," Zarif wrote on Twitter.

Zarif added that "50 years after MLK assassination, the US still violates the civil rights of black men and women," in reference to the murder in the United States of black civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

He added that since Hashemi was married to an Iranian she is considered as an Iranian national and "it is our duty to defend our citizens".


This article has been adapted from its original source.

Copyright @ 2021 The New Arab.

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