An Iranian government news channel for Press TV was released late Wednesday after its 10-day detention in US custody in the United States and Iran sparked outrage.
FBI agents arrested US citizen Marzieh Hashemi at St. Louis airport on January 13. According to reports released by the Ministry of Justice on Friday, she was detained as a witness in an unspecified criminal case. Her detention raised concerns about the possible initial change issues of journalist detention and religious freedom issues, as practicing Muslim Hashemi was reportedly denied halal food and their hijab was forcibly removed.
"Marzieh and her family will not allow this to be swept under the carpet," the woman's family said shortly after her release. They "still have serious complaints [and] they want assurances that this will never happen again to any Muslim ̵
Hashemi was not charged with a crime and appeared before a state grand jury at least 3 times. US law allows the government to arrest and detain so-called "material witnesses" when a judge agrees that the person has information that is relevant to criminal proceedings and flees if he or she is simply brought to justice.
The Justice Department did not return this to a guardian question about the nature of the criminal proceedings or why it took the step of imprisoning Hashemi to secure her testimony. Maybe it's because she often travels to Iran and lives part-time.
Their release follows violent indignation in Tehran, where journalists gathered on Wednesday to label the detention as "illegal" and as "violation of human rights."
"This is certainly a blatant violation of human rights, a violation of domestic rights, a violation of freedom of speech and press freedom. There is no doubt about that," said Seyed Mostafa Khoshcheshm, a political analyst in Tehran, according to Tasnim news agency. The comments came with a joint statement by three major Iranian journalists' associations condemning the arrest.
The arrest of Hashemi contributed to an increasingly turbulent diplomatic relationship between the US and Iran, which was disturbed by the Trump government's decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration and reintroduce harsh sanctions.
The US government must declare that Marzieh Hashemi – a journalist and grandmother – poses such a flight risk that she must be detained until she has delivered her testimony to a large jury, "said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif a tweet on Monday that was watched in the US as Martin Luther King Jr Day. "Fifty years after MLK's murder, the US is still violating the civil rights of black men and women," he continued.
Hashemi was born in Louisiana as Melanie Franklin and changed her name when she converted to Islam after the Iranian Revolution. For over a decade, she has lived mainly in Iran, according to Press TV, and was in the US to visit a sick family member. Hashemi also worked on a documentary about the Black Lives Matter movement while in the US.
The testimony of Hashemi's family said that she was expected to comment "in due course" and would attend one of over two dozen events around the world that organizers had already planned for Friday to protest for their freedom.
"When America is aware of the harassment of the black community by the police, America needs to start talking about harassment of the Muslim community the FBI," the statement said.