Sunday, 17 February, 2019

Iran journalist arrested in United States: employer

Born Melanie Franklin Hashemi was in the United States to visit family Born Melanie Franklin Hashemi was in the United States to visit family
Lora Ball | 17 January, 2019, 04:26

US police have arrested an American-born journalist working for Iran's English-language Press TV, the state-run broadcaster reported on Wednesday.

"We will not spare any legal action" to help her, said Paiman Jebeli, deputy chief of Iran's state IRIB broadcaster.

Hashemi, born Melanie Franklin, had arrived in the USA to visit her ill brother and other family members.

Jabali said all she had been offered to eat was pork, religiously forbidden for Muslims.

Middle East Eye could not independently verify these claims. The bureau also did not immediately respond to a written request for comment. She was then relocated to Washington, according to her son, Hossein Hashemi, who spoke to AP.

In addition, the Islamic Radio and Television Union also condemned her arrest, calling "on its member media outlets and the related global organizations for an exceptional attention to this cause, and granting special care in the context of protecting the freedom of journalism, press and journalists".

Hashemi's brother, Milton Leroy Franklin of Metairie, a New Orleans suburb, told The Associated Press he knows only what his niece has put on Facebook.

Hashemi's reported arrest comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US, with Iran holding at least four USA nationals on espionage charges, or no charges at all.

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Press TV said Hashemi had traveled to the U.S.

"We call on the USA to explain her charges", he said.

Hashemi, who was born in the USA, was originally known as Melanie Franklin before converting to Islam and moving to Iran after being inspired by the Iranian revolution.

White is the fourth American known to be held by Iran, and while CBS News has learned that Iran floated the idea of a prisoner exchange previous year, State Department officials have not said whether the Trump administration is willing to negotiate.

Iran's foreign ministry condemned Hashemi's arrest and demanded her immediate release. The 59-year-old hasn't been charged with a crime. Iranian-American art dealer Karan Vafadari and his Iranian wife, Afarin Neyssari, received 27-year and 16-year prison sentences respectively.

The Iranian government is demanding the "immediate and unconditional" release of a correspondent for its state-controlled press organ who was detained over the weekend by US authorities.

The mysterious circumstances concerning Hashemi's alleged detainment is roiling tensions between the Trump administration and hardline regime in Tehran, which has detained several American citizens in recent months on purported espionage charges.

Former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished in Iran in 2007 while on an unauthorized Central Intelligence Agency mission, remains missing as well. Iran says Levinson is not in the country and that it has no further information about him, though his family holds Tehran responsible for his disappearance.

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