Pakistani rights activists and journalist groups have staged a protest rally in the city of Karachi to condemn US detention of Press TV’s news anchor Marzieh Hashemi.
Hashemi, a 59-year-old American-born Muslim convert who has been living in Iran for years, was detained at St. Louis Lambert International Airport in Missouri on January 13 while she was in the US to visit her ailing brother and other family members.
During the protest on Monday, the participants denounced the imprisonment of the journalist without charge as a violation of human rights and freedom of speech.
The US government confirmed Friday that it had been holding Hashemi in jail since January 13 as a “material witness” in a case in federal court in Washington.
In a report published on Saturday, the Washington Post said US judicial authorities rarely issue material witness warrants, and the warrant issued for Press TV’s anchorwoman is the first of its kind this year.
After her detention at the airport, Hashemi was transferred to a detention facility in Washington DC, where she was forced to remove her hijab and offered food not permissible under her Islamic values.
John Steppling, a political commentator, condemned the detention of the journalist, saying holding Hashemi as material witness would constitute intellectual terrorism.
He also said Iran’s independence makes the American authorities very angry.
Max Igan, another political commentator, noted that the mainstream media remain hugely silent about the detention.
Hashemi’s detention has revealed the weakness of the US government, which always claims to be a “beacon of democracy in the world,” head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi said Sunday.
“What kind of democracy is this that a women who has traveled there to visit her family and is a hard-working journalist who has done nothing but reporting, is detained by them and nobody says anything,” he added.