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Iranian women protest US arrest of state TV journalist

Iranians hold banners bearing messages that call for the release of US-born journalist Marzieh Hashemi, in front of the Swiss embassy in the capital Tehran on January 20, 2019
AFP
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Tehran (AFP)

Dozens of women staged a protest in Tehran on Sunday calling for the release of an Iranian state TV journalist arrested in the United States.

The demonstrators waved pictures of Marzieh Hashemi at the rally in front of the Swiss Embassy which handles US interests in the Islamic republic.

US-born Hashemi, who works for Iran's English-language Press TV, was held on arrival at St Louis Lambert International Airport on January 13, according to family and friends cited by Press TV.

Hashemi, a Muslim convert who changed her name from Melanie Franklin, had reportedly been visiting her ill brother and other family members.

A US court on Friday confirmed the arrest, saying her testimony is required over an unspecified case but that she is not accused of a crime.

At a hearing in Washington, a judge ordered the partial unsealing of an order on Hashemi.

It said that Hashemi was arrested on "a material arrest warrant" and would be let go after she gave testimony to a grand jury investigating unspecified "violations of US criminal law".

The protesters in Tehran, including students and female members of the paramilitary Basij militia, shouted slogans such as "we are all Marzieh" and carried posters with the hashtag #FreeMarziehHashemi.

"We demand that she is immediately released and returned to her family in full health," demonstrator Minaeepour told AFP.

Iran's FM Javad Zarif on Thursday described the detention as a "political action" by the United States that "tramples on freedom of speech" and demanded she be set free.

Zarif said that since Hashemi was married to an Iranian she is considered as an Iranian national and "it is our duty to defend our citizens".

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