Iranian TV anchor arrested in US

Paiman Jebeli deputy chief of Iran's state IRIB broadcaster gives a press briefing about American-born news anchor on Iranian state television's English-language service Marzieh Hashemi shown in banner in Tehran Iran Wednesday Jan. 16 20

Paiman Jebeli deputy chief of Iran's state IRIB broadcaster gives a press briefing about American-born news anchor on Iranian state television's English-language service Marzieh Hashemi shown in banner in Tehran Iran Wednesday Jan. 16 20

A US court on Friday confirmed the arrest of a journalist for Iranian television, saying her testimony is required over an unspecified case but that she is not accused of a crime.

"Marzieh Hashemi, detained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on unspecified charges, is due to appear in a Washington, DC, court on Friday", the state-run Press TV reported, without elaborating. In its report, Press TV said it is unaware of any charges or the reason for the journalist's arrest.

The acknowledgement came in a federal judge's order stating that American-born Melanie Franklin, also known as Marzieh Hashemi, was taken into custody on a material witness warrant issued in Washington.

The chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Beryl Howell, unsealed documents related to Hashemi's detention on Friday, which said she has twice appeared before the court and has been appointed an attorney.

The court order said that Hashemi, who was born in the United States as Melanie Franklin, had been detained to give a testimony to a jury investigating unspecified "violations of USA criminal law".

"We want more clear answers", Hossein Hashemi said in a separate interview with Press TV.

Hashemi converted to the Muslim faith and moved to Iran decades ago, Press TV said. Press TV is an English language network based in Tehran and overseen by the Iranian government.

Hashemi, a 59-year-old U.S. citizen who has been living in Iran for years, was detained last week while she was in the United States to visit her ill brother and other family members.

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Her son Hossein not comment on details of the case outside court on Friday.

The material witness warrants are rarely issued, and Ms. Hashemi's case is the first such case filed in federal court in the United States capital this year. "We don't think any of that should lead to her arrest".

United States federal law allows the government to arrest and detain a witness if it can prove that their testimony is material to a criminal proceeding and that it cannot guarantee their presence through a subpoena. "She was instrumental in organizing The New Horizon conference in Iran on the status of African Americans", it added.

No official charges have been pressed against the Iranian anchorwoman.

The AP report also said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told state TV that Hashemi's arrest indicates the "apartheid and racist policy" of the Trump administration. She has been eating only pretzels because the prison food does not meet her dietary restrictions, he says, and her hijab was removed during processing.

However, he notes that the detention of Hashemi comes after Iran detained U.S. Navy veteran Michael White.

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) also called on U.S. government agencies to explain the reasons behind Hashemi's detention.

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