US-Born Iranian TV Anchor Arrested by FBI

Son says Marzieh Hashemi is being held as a witness
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 17, 2019 12:30 AM CST
In this image provided by Hossein Hashemi, Marzieh Hashemi, poses for a photo.   (Hossein Hashemi via AP)
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(Newser) – A prominent American anchorwoman on Iranian state television has been arrested by the FBI during a visit to the US, the broadcaster reported Wednesday. Her son says she is being held in a prison, apparently as a material witness. Marzieh Hashemi, who worked for Press TV, the network's English-language service, was detained in St. Louis, where she had filmed a Black Lives Matter documentary after visiting relatives in the New Orleans area, the AP reports. She was then taken to Washington, according to her elder son, Hossein Hashemi. The FBI said in an email that it had no comment on the arrest of the woman who was born Melanie Franklin in New Orleans and has worked for Iran's state television network for 25 years.

Hossein Hashemi says his mother lives in Tehran and comes back to this country about once a year to see her family, usually scheduling documentary work somewhere in the US as well. "We still have no idea what's going on," says Hashemi, a research fellow at the University of Colorado. He says he and his siblings have been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury. Marzieh Hashemi, an American citizen, had not been contacted by the FBI before she was detained and would "absolutely" have been willing to cooperate with the agency, her son says. The family is trying to hire an attorney, but it has been difficult because she has not been charged with a crime, he says.

(Read more Iran stories.)

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