Press TV anchor Marzieh Hashemi, who is an American national based in Iran, has been detained and jailed by US federal agents for unspecified reasons while on a visit to the country.
Hashemi’s family members and media activists have launched a social media campaign with the hashtags #FreeMarziehHashemi and #Pray4MarziehHashemi in support of the detained journalist.
While pursuing her case, the Iranian news network has been interviewing a range of her fellow-journalists, commentators, and others to obtain their viewpoints on Hashemi’s arrest and ill-treatment at a detention facility in Washington.
What follows is the transcript of remarks by interviewees Sam Mehdi Torabi, Shabbir Hassanally, and Massoud Shadjareh. The text has been condensed and edited for clarity.
E. Michael Jones, editor of Culture Wars Online Magazine from Indiana
“It takes a while, but eventually the appointment of people like [National Security Advisor] John Bolton and [US Secretary of State] Michael Pompeo [has] an effect on policy as Israeli standards of justice and freedom of the press gets imposed on America. The new era was inaugurated by the murder of [Saudi journalist Jamal] Khashoggi of the Washington Post in Turkey. After Pompeo assured [Saudi Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Salman that no consequences would follow from that cowardly act, the FBI was given permission to follow suit with the arrest on Marzieh Hashemi, who is now being detained in St. Louis after returning to the United States to visit a sick relative. We pray for her speedy release but add to that a warning to Pompeo and Bolton, who seemed determined to take America down a road no American wants to travel. One of the few freedoms left in the US is freedom of speech. Take that away and bad things will follow,” Jones said.
Philip Giraldi, former CIA officer
“The truly most disgusting aspect of the detention of Marzieh Hashemi is the fact that she has been arrested without any charges being made regarding what illegal act she was allegedly engaged in. That type of arrest is something that takes place in a police state, not in a country that claims to operate under rule of law.”
“It is reminiscent of the case of Russian Maria Butina who was similarly arrested and eventually charged with collusion and failing to register as a foreign agent. I would expect there will be similar charges against Marzieh, vague and difficult to demonstrate.”
“The real purpose of arrests of Iranians and Russians is to make those two countries appear to be threatening, which they are not, and in some cases to use the victims as bargaining chips. And the hostile atmosphere created enables the likes of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo to push an aggressive agenda that could easily lead to war. Marzieh is a victim of the kind of paranoid country the United States has become since 2001.”
James Petras, American writer and academic from New York
“The FBI arbitrary and unlawful arrest of one of Iran’s leading journalists, Marzieh Hashemi, is a violation of the US bill of rights protecting free speech. I call for her immediate release and freedom.”
Don DeBar, journalist and radio host from New York
“It is unclear whether the arrest of this world-class journalist is an expression of policy from the White House or from the FBI. In either case, it is an attack on journalists in particular and on human rights in general. Marzieh Hashemi is both an Iranian journalist of international stature and a native-born American with the full set rights specified in the US Constitution. She must be released immediately.”
Marwa Osman, journalist and political commentator
“This (detention of Marzieh Hashemi) stands against everything that the US allegedly advocates considering freedom of speech and democracy and respecting people’s rights and this is against everything that the US has ever spoken.”
“In their territories, they incarcerate, they abduct people from international airports, they don’t even issue statement, they don’t issue any charges, they don’t inform the family of the person that they have abducted.”
“This speaks volume about what the US really is in comparison to what it presents itself to the world.”
Riaz Karim, director of the Veritas Center for Strategic Studies
“Marzieh being a journalist that puts a target right on her head and this is how they (American authorities) operate and it is very sad.”
“I don’t think she has anything to fear and if the justice system, the way that I know it, would work in America, they are going to have to release her, but having said that being a Muslim and the word Iran attached to you puts you into a separate category altogether around the world not only America but especially in America, because the [anti-] Iranian rhetoric has been ratcheted up so much right now by [US President] Donald Trump that America states that Iranians are first-rate criminals altogether.”
Eric Walberg, author and journalist
The US “is very good at shooting itself in the foot. Why would you choose a black journalist, eloquent, wonderful woman like Marzieh and put her in jail?”
“It really is insane. It is not going to help the US at all. In fact, it will rebound only positively on Iran that has support from such good people … that want to work with Iran in the face of US threats.”
Kevin Barrett, author and political commentator in Madison, Wisconsin
“I know and admire Marzieh Hashemi, one of the world’s great international news anchors, and I am outraged that she has apparently been kidnapped under cover of law for unknown reasons by US federal authorities. Detaining journalists without charges is what police states do. This is not supposed to happen in the United States, where journalists are protected under the First Amendment. Since 9/11, we have seen a huge increase in blatantly unconstitutional behavior by people who are sworn to defend the Constitution. This is unacceptable. A red line needs to be drawn, right here, right now. Free Marzieh Hashemi!” Barrett said.
Scott Bennett, political commentator
“This is part of a broader movement, whether it’s been done by the [US President Donald] Trump administration or it’s been done against President Trump by members in the Department of Justice and the FBI and the deep state.”
“It is not simply about a black female journalist. This is a broader psychological operation designed against Iran and Iranian people and the Iranian government.”
“This is probably an operation to of course generate false charges, probably tied into another spying operation that the US Department of Justice has been involved in.”
Mostafa Khoshcheshm, political analyst and journalist
“Marzieh’s case is not a single case. Her detention is not something because she has been working in Iran. She is a host of Press TV. She is a journalist.”
“This is not a single case, this has been repeated every now and then. We have seen similar things. We have seen female Iranians that have been under much torture, they have been extradited, they have been caught in Europe and extradited to the United States.”
“This is a flagrant violation of human rights, of freedom of speech, freedom of expression and this is showing us once again that the United States is using double standards when it comes to such notions.”
Keith Preston, director of the Attackthesystem.com
“The arrest of Marzieh Hashemi is clearly an effort to silence voices that speak in opposition to the policies of the American government, and to intimidate others to prevent them from speaking. Marzieh Hashemi is being used as a hostage for the purpose of threatening the nation of Iran, and opponents of America’s international policies everywhere. This action is also an attack on independent journalism and the freedom of the press. The arbitrary arrest and detention without trial of Marzieh Hashemi is an affront to civilized legal procedure, and the denial of her rights as a Muslim while in custody is an attack on religious liberty and a violation of human rights,” Preston said.
Denis Rancourt, Canadian civil rights advocate
“There can be no valid reason that the FBI has arrested Iran’s renowned TV anchor Marzieh Hashemi on arrival in the USA to visit her sick brother. There is also no valid reason that her personal dignity was violated by her detention conditions. This is an egregious violation of international journalistic freedom. I have viewed many of Ms. Hashemi’s investigative reports and I have found them to always be of the highest standards. The incident appears as illegal intimidation that is geopolitically-motivated. The USA is acting like a lawless bully in this matter,” said Rancourt, a researcher with the Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA).
Lauren Booth, Muslim convert and sister-in-law of ex-UK premier Tony Blair
“Marzieh is a personal friend and fellow journalist. I expect all agencies involved in the protection of journalists to call US authorities to account for holding our colleague without charge and without reason,” Booth said.
Myles Hoenig, American social activist
“The World Press Freedom index has put the US in 2018 in 45th place. Ever since, the National Defense Authorization Act journalism and its professionals have been under attack in the US. This most recent abduction of a Press TV journalist by the FBI is unacceptable and Ms. Hashemi ought to be released immediately, and with a public explanation,” Hoenig told Press TV.
Walt Peretto, American writer and researcher in Washington
“Globalist aggression has taken a leap forward with the arbitrary arrest of Press TV journalist Marzieh Hashemi by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. For years, Syria and Iran have been targets for absorption into a one world control system by pathological elites and their recent lack of success in Syria has now prompted this provocation of detaining an Iranian journalist. So far, the Western mainstream media has largely ignored this story, so it is up to journalists in the independent media to shine a bright light onto this unjust action and place it into its proper context,” Peretto said.
Dennis Etler, American political commentator based in California
“The FBI, up to its old tricks, has arrested without charge US born, Iranian Press TV journalist Marzieh Hashemi upon her arrival in the US to see a sick relative. This outrageous abduction is in keeping with the behavior of the rogue regime that has long been entrenched in Washington DC. The war criminals in Washington are quick to condemn others but feel that their own actions, from invading nations and slaughtering millions to kidnapping and torturing whomever they choose, is beyond reproach. US hypocrisy and double standards are exposed once again!” Dennis said.
Nader Talebzadeh, Iranian writer and filmmaker
“They (the American officials) sit down and they think and they come up with plans and they look at the table who is coming, who is going, what they could do and it could be possible that [it] is part of the plan to provoke and intimidate and try to get reaction.”
“It is possible that they are intimidating [the Iranian nation] right at the … coming of the … fortieth year of the Islamic Republic.”
“Marzieh Hashemi, the main thing known about her is she is very bold about announcing her views and opinions about where her stand [is] and because she has access to a wide range of speakers around the world, famous people, [the US authorities] try to silence Press TV; therefore, anything could be possible in the planning room of the neo-cons.”
Sam Mehdi Torabi, the director of Resalat Strategic Studies Institute, Qom, Iran
“The American government unfortunately oftentimes works in a bubble. They don’t understand that their actions have a certain reaction in the other parts of the world. They sit together, they make certain decisions, and they want to do what they want to do; but they don’t realize that when the American government arrests a 60-year-old grandmother and doesn’t report about it for 48 hours, this is a public relations nightmare for the US.”
“I think they don’t realize what a backlash this is going to cause. There is no rule of law in the US. There is a legal concept… which is an ancient legal concept: habeas corpus. It means that you have to present in written form, when you arrest somebody, the reason you have arrested them within a reasonable bound of time.”
“If there is anybody who still doubts or thinks that there is something good in the US about that… ‘Oh! They protect human rights! They have freedom of speech!’ Well, you know, on paper, all this is true, but in practice none of this is true.”
“If the government in the US has a reason for doing this, they need to say it. This is not because we ask them to; this is the law in the US, this is the law in any country that claims to be civilized and to have rule of law. You have to mention the reason when you arrest somebody.”
Shabbir Hassanally, activist and political commentator
“Without any doubt the arrest of sister Hashemi is very politically motivated. She’s been specifically targeted for a number of reasons that fit the Trump and the current United States’ fascist agenda, which is the fact that she is African-American, she is a Muslim, and she is based in Iran, she works for an Iranian broadcaster, Press TV.”
“And so far as the Americans are concerned, she is fair game because this current administration, while in reality it is no different to previous administrations in its barbarism, in its brutality against people, what we have to understand about the Trump regime is it doesn’t have any of the veneer of respectability or the veneer of diplomacy that for example the Obama administration had.”
Massoud Shadjareh, Islamic Human Rights Commission in London, the UK
“What we’re seeing from the United States is an exposure of the brutality of this sort of regime (in America), and the beast is showing its characteristics. We have seen this exposed especially during the term of this current president.”
“Now we see the United States is openly, publicly, and arrogantly behaving beastly internally. It’s the way it is treating its black community, and the way it’s been treating even its white community. And now we see that they are openly and publicly willing to show their beastly position.”
“What we’re seeing happening to Marzieh is actually a declaration of this policy that the United States doesn’t give a damn about how it is being seen behaving badly, unlawfully, and abusively.”
“There’s really no justification whatsoever to behave that way towards someone like Marzieh, who does nothing more than speak out the truth, speak out against injustice, and has never brought harm to anyone, hasn’t done anything illegal and has never been violent toward anyone and has never been abusive towards anyone.”
“I think really the international community now has to judge the United States not according to what it says, or its constitution, but it needs to judge it according to the way it behaves, and needs to stand up against this beastly structure, which is being not only abusive outside but indeed abusive against its own citizens.”