Iran US Journalist Detained
Iran US Journalist Detained

A prominent American-born anchorwoman on Iranian state television who has been jailed in the U.S. will not be released yet, her son said outside a federal courthouse Friday.

Marzieh Hashemi was taken to court in Washington to testify before a grand jury, her son Hossein Hashemi told The Associated Press. It wasn't clear if she had testified or not, and he did not say outside court.

He has said she's been jailed as a material witness, though it's unclear for which case. She hasn't been charged with a crime. He said he couldn't comment further; the family is under subpoena.

"We're hoping that it would be complete and she would be out this week. It doesn't look like that's going to happen," he said outside court. "So we're just waiting to hear more."

Marzieh Hashemi, who worked for the Press TV network's English-language service, was detained by federal agents on Sunday in St. Louis, where she had filmed a Black Lives Matter documentary after visiting relatives in the New Orleans area, her son said. She was then transported to Washington and has remained behind bars since then.

Hashemi, 59, is a U.S. citizen and was born Melanie Franklin. She lives in Tehran and comes back to the United States about once a year to see her family, usually scheduling documentary work in the U.S., her son said.

Witnesses and the law

Federal law allows judges to order witnesses to be arrested and detained if the government can prove that their testimony has extraordinary value for a criminal case and that they would be a flight risk and unlikely to respond to a subpoena. The statute generally requires those witnesses to be promptly released once they are deposed.

Hossein Hashemi said he, his brother and his sister also have been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury. Asked whether his mother had been involved in any criminal activity or knew anyone who might be implicated in a crime, Hashemi said, "We don't have any information along those lines."

The FBI has declined to comment.

U.S., Iran tensions

Marzieh Hashemi's detention comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. after President Donald Trump withdrew America from a nuclear deal. Iran also faces increasing criticism of its own arrests of dual citizens and other people with Western ties.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement early Friday expressing concern over Marzieh Hashemi's case and asked the Justice Department to disclose the reason for her arrest. The group's statement noted that "Iran routinely jails journalists."