Tehran: Iran’s Finance Minister M Javad Zarif called the detention of one of its journalists in the United States a ‘political action’ that tramples on freedom of speech and demanded her immediate release.
“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’, Thursday.
US-born Hashemi, who works for Iran’s English-language ‘Press TV’, was arrested Sunday on arrival at St Louis Lambert International Airport, according to family and friends cited by the channel.
Zarif said that since Hashemi was married to an Iranian she is considered as an Iranian national and ‘it is our duty to defend our citizens’. “The Americans must immediately end this political game,” he added, demanding her release.
Earlier Wednesday, the head of Press TV, Payman Jabali said that Hashemi had been detained with her son in the United States on unspecified charges.
“As we know the US, especially on combatting terrorism, can arrest anyone with no charges and detain them for weeks. We believe legal action would not be effective for her freedom,” Jabali told reporters in Tehran.
“We call on the US to explain her charges. This is a scandal for so-called US democracy.”
The broadcaster said Hashemi, a Muslim convert who changed her name from Melanie Franklin, had been visiting ‘her ill brother and other family members’. Jabali informed all she had been offered to eat was pork, religiously forbidden for Muslims.