A US court order has confirmed that a journalist working for Iran's Press TV was arrested in connection with a probe into "violations of US criminal law." But Marzieh Hashemi has not been accused of committing any crime.
A US-born journalist working for Iran's state-owned international broadcaster has been arrested in the United States but has not been accused of any crime, a US court has confirmed.
The order for the arrest of Marzieh Hashemi was released on Friday after Beryl Howell, the chief judge of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, requested its partial publication.
The court order said Hashemi, who was born in the United States as Melanie Franklin, had been arrested to give a testimony to a jury investigating unspecified "violations of US criminal law."
She had made two court appearances and would be released after she had completed the testimony, it said, adding: "Franklin has been appointed an attorney and has not been accused of any crime."
The jury is examining whether Hashemi's employer, Press TV, failed to register in the US as an agent of a foreign government, Reuters news agency reported, citing a US government source.
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'Tramples on freedom of speech'
Press TV said the arrest occurred on Sunday at an airport in St. Louis. The Iranian government called for her immediate release, adding that she was an Iranian citizen due to her marriage to an Iranian man.
"The arrest of Marzieh Hashemi by America is an unacceptable political act that tramples on freedom of speech," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday.
Hashemi, a Muslim convert, presented reports and documentaries on the English-language channel that were critical of US foreign policy and the treatment of Muslims within the country.
US-Iran relations tense
The Committee to Protect Journalists, a US-based organization, called on Washington to explain why Hashemi had been arrested.
The United States has repeatedly criticized Iran for its treatment of journalists, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who was freed in 2016 after 544 days in prison.
Relations between the two countries are tense after the United States re-imposed sanctions on Iran following its withdrawal from a 2015 nuclear deal with the country.
amp/sms (AFP, Reuters)