Iran state TV presenter arrested by FBI and moved to Washington DC, say reports

An American-born journalist working for Iran‘s state TV broadcaster has reportedly been arrested after flying into the US.

Press TV interrupted its broadcast on Wednesday to report Marzieh Hashemi was arrested after she arrived at St Louis Lambert International Airport on Sunday.

The English-language Iranian broadcaster, citing family members, said its TV presenter and documentary film maker was taken into FBI custody and brought to Washington, DC.

In a report on its website, Press TV said Ms Hashemi, “a mother and a grandmother”, had “travelled to the United States to visit her family members, including her brother, who is suffering from cancer”.

“Her relatives were unable to contact her, and she was allowed to contact her daughter only two days after her arrest,” it added.

According to the broadcaster the 59-year-old Muslim-convert, who was born in New Orleans and named Melanie Franklin, told her daughter “she was handcuffed and shackled and was being treated like a criminal”.

She was quoted as saying her hijab had been forcibly removed and claiming she was only offered pork to eat, which Islam prohibits Muslims from consuming.

The only food she has had over the past two days has been a “packet of crackers,” Ms Hashemi was quoted as saying by Press TV.

The broadcaster’s account of her treatment could not be independently verified.

The Independent has contacted the FBI for comment.

Iran has called for Ms Hashemi’s immediate release and accused Washington of mistreating her in jail as a black Muslim woman.

“We condemn the illegal arrest of Marzieh Hashemi, the reporter and presenter of Press TV, and the inhuman treatment of her in jail in Washington,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

“The sudden arrest of an American Muslim woman, and inhuman and disrespectful behavior of US federal officers with her is a clear example of how an apartheid regime treats its non-white citizens,” Mr Qasemi added.

Ms Hashemi has lived in Iran for more than a decade, according to various Iranian media. She has reported on the subject of discrimination against women, Muslims, and African-Americans in the US.

Her reported arrest comes amid mounting tensions between Iran and the US.

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