Jan 19, 2019 07:29 Asia/Tehran

A court in the United States has confirmed the arrest of US-born Iranian Press TV news presenter Marzieh Hashemi as a material witness in an unspecified investigation.

Iran Press/America: American officials had not confirmed her detention until Friday, when Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ordered some details about her arrest unsealed.

The court order said that Marzieh Hashemi, 59, had been arrested on a material witness warrant and was not accused of any crime, Iran Press reported. She had made two court appearances, it said, and American authorities expected her to be released after “her testimony before a grand jury investigating violations of US criminal law.” Though the order said a lawyer had been appointed for Ms. Hashemi, none was named.

The document provided no details regarding the federal investigation for which Ms. Hashemi was detained. The F.B.I. did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The Associated Press said US government officials expected her to be released immediately after her testimony before a grand jury, but Ms. Hashemi's elder son, Hossein, was pessimistic about prospects for her immediate release, saying it was not clear yet how long his mother’s testimony would last.

Reuters further quoted an unnamed US government source as claiming that it appeared the grand jury was examining whether Press TV is a “propaganda outlet” that failed to register with the Justice Department as an agent of a foreign government.

The Press TV anchor and producer, who returns periodically to the US to visit her family, had been working in St. Louis on a documentary about Black Lives Matter, an international activist movement originating in the African-American community that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people in the United States.

The 59-year-old US citizen, who is based in Iran, was detained on Sunday in St. Louis, Missouri.

Suzanne Nossel, CEO of the PEN America group promoting literature and free expression, said she is concerned Hashemi might have been targeted for her documentary work on the Black Lives Matter movement or for political reasons.

Peyman Jebeli, IRIB World Service chief on Wednesday forthrightly condemned the arrest and imprisonment of journalist, Marzieh Hashemi, saying the Trump administration was fully responsible for the safety and well-being of the Press TV anchor.   101/211 /202


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