Iran newspapers, minister criticise US arrest of newscaster

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Iran has protested the arrest of Marzieh Hashemi, who was born in the United States and is a presenter on Iran's English-language Press TV, amid high tensions between the two countries.

Federal law allows judges to order a witness to be arrested and detained if the government can prove his or her testimony has extraordinary value for a criminal case and he or she would be a flight risk and unlikely to respond to a subpoena.

The Associated Press said U.S. government officials expected her to be released immediately after her testimony before a grand jury, but Hashemi's elder son, Hossein, was pessimistic about prospects for her immediate release, saying it was not clear yet how long his mother's testimony would last. It is also likely that her kidnapping and detention are part of the ongoing effort by the crack down on the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Upon arrival at St. Louis Lambert International Airport she was detained and transferred from Missouri to Washington DC, where she is now being held in an Federal Bureau of Investigation detention facility. While she's unknown in the US, she's a prominent figure in Iran due to her position on state television. The television did not give further details and the report could not be immediately confirmed.

Earlier, Press TV quoted Hashemi as saying she had been prohibited from wearing a Muslim hijab in prison and had been offered pork for her meal.

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Suzanne Nossel, from the group PEN America that promotes free expression in writing, said she is concerned Hashemi might have been targeted for her work on the Black Lives Matter movement, or for political reasons.

The FBI, the Department of Justice and the Metropolitan Police Department in St. Louis all declined NPR's requests for information.

He said her son, Reza Hashemi, had also been arrested but was not in detention while he awaited trial.

The broadcaster said Hashemi, a Muslim convert who changed her name from Melanie Franklin, had been visiting "her ill brother and other family members".

The son of an Iranian television anchorwoman who has been jailed in the USA says his mother has not yet been released.

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Zarif said that since Hashemi was married to an Iranian she is considered as an Iranian national and "it is our duty to defend our citizens". She's a citizen of both the USA and Iran.

United States federal law allows the government to arrest and detain a witness if it can prove their testimony is material to a criminal proceeding and it cannot guarantee their presence through a subpoena.

"We still have no idea what's going on", said Hashemi, a research fellow at the University of Colorado who was interviewed by phone from Washington. She has lived in Iran for over a decade, the reports said.

Iranian media have echoed Tehran's outrage at the arrest of Marzieh Hashemi.

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