An American journalist working as a news anchor for an Iranian state-run television channel was apprehended in St Louis Lambert International Airport upon entering the United States Sunday and charged with working as a spy.
After the journalist, Marzieh Hashemi, who has lived in Iran since 2009, was arrested she was transferred by FBI agents to a detention center in Washington DC. She is reportedly charged with spying for the Khomeinisst regime and coordinating with them to bypass sanctions, according to the Islamic State of Iran Crime Research Center.
Hashemi, 59, was born in New Orleans as Melanie Franklin and changed her name when she converted to Shia Islam and has since spent most of her time in Iran, where she appears on the English-language news channel backed by the Iranian government. She converted to Islam and moved to Iran after being inspired by the Iranian revolution.
Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif criticized the arrest.
“The arrest of Marzieh Hashemi by America is an unacceptable political act that tramples on freedom of speech,” Zarif told state-run Al-Alam TV. “The Americans must immediately end this political game.”
According to Press TV, Hashemi’s children were subpoenaed to testify in the government’s case against their mother.
Hashemi’s children were subpoenaed to testify in the government’s case against their mother. Her son, Hossein Hashemi, questioned in an interview with Press TV whether his mother was arrested for her advocacy of “social justice.”
“She is somebody who does documentaries on Black Lives Matters and is critical of a lot of the domestic policies of the United States government,” he said, “the school-to-prison sort of pipeline and the white community and also the wars abroad and the regime change policies that the United States enforces all the time and puts major budgets behind.
“We don’t know whether those are the reasons for her apprehension, but it is difficult to not become sort of conspiratorial about what is going on with a person as high-profile as my mother.”
He also complained his mother is being denied halal food while detained.
“She had only eaten pretzels because her dietary restrictions limited her from the kinds of food that the prison facility would offer,” he said. “She is also upset about the fact that her hijab was removed during processing and later on she was only able to cover her hair with a T-shirt apparently.
Hashemi’s arrest comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Last year, President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
At least four Americans have been detained in Iran, many who have been convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, on what the US maintains are fabricated charges. The Trump administration attempted to negotiate discussion about American prisoners last year, but Iranian official refused.