Press TV’s chief says the Iranian English-language news network will take any necessary legal action to secure the release of its anchorwoman, Marzieh Hashemi, who has been imprisoned in Washington on unspecified charges, holding the US responsible for her health.
Speaking to Press TV on Wednesday, Peyman Jebelli, who heads the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB)’s World Service, complained that Hashemi was being held in “inhumane,” “unethical” and “illegal psychological conditions” under US custody.
“We have been informed that she is being kept in prison under very tough conditions and without any charges,” he said, exclaiming that Hashemi had been forced to remove her hijab – compulsory for Muslim women under Islamic dress code — not only when she was being photographed but also during her detention.
“Despite the fact that she has declared to prison authorities that she cannot eat pork as a Muslim, they have told her that it’s the only food available. As far as we know, she’s been eating only biscuits,” he noted.
Press TV and IRIB, Jebelli stressed, “hold the US government responsible for anything that may happen” to Hashemi.
Asked about the possibility of taking legal action regarding the case, he explained, “Her health and her freedom are of paramount importance to us and any legal action that may be necessary to support her, we will definitely go for it.”
“For the time being, we are trying to obtain precise information about her. What is of paramount importance to us is that she has to be freed immediately because she has not committed any crime and has not been so far facing any charges,” he added.
In an earlier interview with the Iranian TV, Jebelli criticized the Press TV anchor’s ill-treatment in US custody, saying she had been given nothing more than a T-shirt to wear despite the cold conditions inside the detention facility.
He also noted that the journalist had only been allowed to contact her family the night before and had told her children about “the very violent treatment” she had received in prison.
Jebelli said Hashemi was apparently going to be interrogated later in the day. “We are waiting to see what charges would be leveled against her,” he added.
The IRIB’s World Service chief further emphasized that Hashemi’s family had been pursuing her case through a lawyer, adding, “We are prepared to provide whatever assistance that could take her out of this situation.”
Hashemi arrived in the US to visit her brother, a cancer patient, and was supposed to return to Iran next week, according to Jebelli.
Hashemi’s case ‘exposed true face of US’
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Association of Iranian Journalists slammed the United States, which calls itself an advocate of human rights, for forcing the Muslim journalist into taking off her headscarf and keeping her in manacles.
“This is not the first time that we witness such medieval and repressive treatment of journalists and independent media by the US administration,” read the statement.
“We have repeatedly witnessed such violent and hateful attacks accompanied by the arrest and assault of media workers by the self-proclaimed advocates of democracy and freedom of information,” it added.