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Legal Matters

Activists gather outside US court, call for immediate release of Press TV anchor

A group of activists and supporters have gathered outside the US District Court in Washington to call for the immediate release of Press TV anchor Marzieh Hashemi, who has been held for nearly two weeks without a charge, as she appears before a grand jury.

Activists on Wednesday gathered outside the court, criticizing the so-called material witness law that allows detention of innocent people without any charges.

Hashemi, a 59-year-old American-born Muslim convert who has lived in Iran for years, was detained at St. Louis Lambert International Airport in Missouri last Sunday while in the US to visit her ill brother and other family members.

She was transferred to a detention facility in Washington, D.C., where she was initially forced to remove her hijab and only offered non-halal food.

The FBI has repeatedly declined to comment on her arrest. But the US government has confirmed that she has been arrested as a material witness.

Hashemi had appeared in a court on Friday for a second time.

'Controversial article in force'

Hashemi's son, Hossein, told the Young Journalists' Club in remarks published by the Iranian news agency on Monday that the US federal government had taken his mother to prison using a very controversial article, which is used very rarely."

"Whenever this article is applied, the person [in question] remains in detention for at most 16 days and then a decision is made about them, he added.

He said the court hearings had failed to level any charges against his mother on the two previous occasions, and that she was expected to be freed if the grand jury voted that there was not enough evidence to hold her.

Hashemi's detention politically-motivated

Meanwhile, the Iranian parliament's Cultural Committee, in a Wednesday statement, expressed concerns about the imprisonment of Press TV anchor, and called it politically-motivated and a blatant violation of the rights of a non-white American Muslim citizen.

It also called on US officials and the US Congress and Senate to protect Hashemi's legitimate rights and make preparations for her immediate release.

Source: Press TV

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