The staff members of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) have gathered in front of the United Nations’ office in Tehran to protest the United States’ detention of Marzieh Hashemi — an anchorwoman for Iran’s Press TV — and demand her immediate release.
The protest gathering was held on Wednesday, and was attended by, among others, IRIB World Service’s Director Peyman Jebelli, and Habib Abdolhossein, who is the manager of Press TV’s English-language website.
The following is a joint statement by the IRIB, the Basij volunteer force’s media branch and national media center, and the Association of Muslim Journalists that was read out during the rally:
Participating bodies issue a joint statement during a protest in the Iranian capital against the illegal detention in the US of Press TV’s anchor Marzieh Hashemi.
The participants held up placards and chanted slogans to demand the release of Hashemi, who was detained at St. Louis Lambert International Airport in Missouri last Sunday while she was in the US to visit her ill brother and other family members.
‘Hashemi’s arrest, a kind of abduction’
Interviewed by Press TV during the gathering, Jebelli said the behavior of the US government in arresting Hashemi “for no reason” was “not acceptable.”
“We don’t have any information about the reasons behind the arrest of our colleague Mrs. Marzieh Hashemi. All we know is that she has been arrested and has been put in jail in a very bad situation for no reason,” he said.
He added that the gathering in front of the UN office in Tehran was meant “to condemn the behavior of the US government” and described Hashemi’s arrest as “a kind of kidnapping.”
Jebelli also said it was not acceptable for the US to use Hashemi in an attempt to pressure the Islamic Republic.
He said the IRIB’s World Service has been giving wide coverage to her case and is cooperating with relevant bodies inside Iran, including the Foreign Ministry, “to defend Hashemi’s rights.”
“They are beginning the legal action to make sure Marzieh is released as soon as possible,” he explained.
‘Hashemi paying price for being voice of the voiceless’
Abdolhossein, also interviewed at the protest site, said Hashemi was “paying the price for being actually the voice of the voiceless. That’s the reason behind her arrest.”
“What we are protesting here, as Marzieh’s colleagues, is that she is a mother, she is a journalist, she is a Muslim African-American, and she’s got nothing to do with politics. So this is not acceptable actually to see her being treated as a criminal. She has not committed any crime; that is according to the US officials,” he added.
He added that the message of the gathering was that, “Marzieh is not alone. We are here in solidarity with her and want to send the message that actually ‘you cannot silence the voice of the voiceless, you cannot silence the truth.’”
Tehran University professor Foad Izadi was also among the crowd of protesters. He had these words to say about the US jailing of Hashemi in a talk with Press TV’s correspondent: