US frees American-born anchor of Iran′s Press TV | Americas| North and South American news impacting on Europe | DW | 25.01.2019
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US frees American-born anchor of Iran's Press TV

An American-born TV anchor has been released after giving testimony to a US federal grand jury. The case appears to be related to an investigation into Iran’s state-run Press TV.

An American-born anchorwoman for Iran's state-run Press TV was released from custody after 10 days after giving testimony as a material witness in an undisclosed federal investigation, according to a US federal court order on Thursday.

Marzieh Hashemi was released from custody in Washington on Tuesday after appearing before a judge and providing testimony to a grand jury, according to court documents.

Hashemi satisfied "her obligations in this material-witness matter, which is now closed," said the order signed by US District Court Judge Beryl Howell.

She was arrested by the FBI at St. Louis Lambert International Airport on January 13 and taken to a detention facility in Washington.

The jury is examining whether Hashemi's employer, the English language Press TV, failed to register as an agent of a foreign government, Reuters news agency reported, citing a US government source.

Hashemi was born in the United States as Melanie Franklin and changed her name after converting to Islam. She also holds Iranian citizenship through marriage to an Iranian.

She was visiting the United States to visit her family, Press TV said.

The case comes as tensions between Iran and the United States are tense following US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of a nuclear agreement and reimpose sanctions. The United States is also at odds with Iran over its influence in the Middle East and regularly criticizes the country's human rights record.

A number of dual nationals of Austria, Britain, Canada, France and the United States have been arrested in Iran such charges as espionage.

Iran's government sharply criticized Hashemi's arrest and accused the United States of hypocrisy over human rights and freedom of speech

Although rare, US law allows the arrest of a witness for testimony if it can prove it cannot be obtained by a subpoena.

Hashemi told the Associated Press that she would have voluntarily appeared for questioning and complied with a subpoena. 

She also said she believed her arrest was meant as a warning for her critical reporting of US government policies.

cw/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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