TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – The US-born Iranian news presenter Marzieh Hashemi who had been in detention for ten days without charge in the US said anything could have happened to him if her son was not there when she was detained.
“What I realize is how easy it is for them to make someone disappear. If (my son) was not there, anything could have happened to me and no one would have known where I was. And I’m just wondering how many people that this happens to,” PressTV journalist Hashemi told RT in an interview.
Hashemi pointed out that during her detention, she was even placed on suicide watch – a fact she only discovered afterwards, from another prisoner. “It concerned me, because I’m thinking maybe they have something up their sleeves here.” She was not allowed to contact anyone for the first 48 hours of her imprisonment.
“It’s mind-boggling that you can be arrested, detained, shackled, not charged with a crime, and I definitely saw it firsthand,” she said, encouraging supporters to take action to “demand an end to this type of activity.”
Hashemi’s ordeal sparked protests in the US and at UN offices in Tehran, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused US authorities of racism in their mistreatment of the journalist.
Hashemi, a 59-year-old American-born Muslim convert who has lived in Iran for years, was detained at St. Louis Lambert International Airport in Missouri last Sunday and flown via private plane to Washington DC, where she was detained under an obscure, little-used law that allows authorities to arrest a material witness in grand jury proceedings.
She was transferred to a detention facility in Washington, DC, where she was initially forced to remove her hijab and only offered non-halal food.
After testifying on Wednesday at Washington DC District Court with her son, she was released. Two of her other children have also been subpoenaed to testify in the unspecified case.
Born Melanie Franklin in New Orleans, Hashemi converted to Islam in 1979 after the Islamic Revolution in Iran and changed her name upon moving there permanently in 2008. She is one of the most recognized news anchors on the English-language Iranian state TV network.