The US-born Iranian journalist snatched up by the FBI and held for 10 days without charges gave an exclusive interview to RT about how fortunate she feels to make it out alive – and how things could have easily gone differently.
“What I realize is how easy it is for them to make someone disappear. If [my son] was not there, anything could have happened to me and no one would have known where I was. And I’m just wondering how many people that this happens to,” PressTV journalist Marzieh Hashemi told RT’s Afshin Rattansi in an exclusive interview.
At one point during her detention, she was even placed on suicide watch – a fact she only discovered afterwards, from another prisoner. “It concerned me, because I’m thinking maybe they have something up their sleeves here.” She was not allowed to contact anyone for the first 48 hours of her imprisonment.
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“It’s mind-boggling that you can be arrested, detained, shackled, not charged with a crime, and I definitely saw it firsthand,” she said, encouraging supporters to take action to “demand an end to this type of activity.” Hashemi’s ordeal sparked protests in the US and at UN offices in Tehran, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused US authorities of racism in their mistreatment of the journalist.
Hashemi was arrested by FBI agents earlier this month at St. Louis’ Lambert International Airport and flown via private plane to Washington DC, where she was detained under an obscure, little-used law that allows authorities to arrest a material witness in grand jury proceedings. After testifying on Wednesday at Washington DC District Court with her son, she was released. Two of her other children have also been subpoenaed to testify in the unspecified case.
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Born Melanie Franklin in New Orleans, Hashemi converted to Islam in 1979 after the Islamic Revolution in Iran and changed her name upon moving there permanently in 2008.