Iran’s American-born journalist detained by FBI to appear in US court — Iranian state TV

Iran called for the immediate release of the journalist who was detained by FBI on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 18 January 2019
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Iran’s American-born journalist detained by FBI to appear in US court — Iranian state TV

  • The journalist’s employer, English-speaking channel Press TV, says she was arrested by FBI on Sunday
  • The Iranian state-run channel says the journalist was detained on unspecified charges

DUBAI: An American journalist working for Iran’s state television channel Press TV who Iran says has been detained in Washington will appear in a US court on Friday, the channel reported on Friday.
Iran has called for the immediate release of TV anchor and documentary film maker Marziyeh Hashemian, whose employer, the English-language channel Press TV, said was arrested on Sunday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.
The FBI has not commented on the case.
“Marzieh Hashemi, detained by the FBI on unspecified charges, is due to appear in a Washington, DC, court on Friday,” the state-run Press TV reported, without elaborating.
The broadcaster on Wednesday quoted Hashemi’s son as saying that the 59-year-old journalist, who had been living in Iran for more than a decade, was detained as a “material witness” to a criminal case and no formal charges had been made against her.
US Federal law allows the government to arrest and detain a witness if it can prove that their testimony is material to a criminal proceeding and that it cannot guarantee their presence through a subpoena.
According to Press TV, Hashemi was born Melanie Franklin in the United States and changed her name after converting to Islam. She had traveled to the United States to visit her family, the channel said.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif condemned the arrest a “violation of freedom of speech and unacceptable.”
“She is the wife of an Iranian citizen and we see it as our duty to defend the rights of our citizens” Zarif told Iran’s Arabic-language state broadcaster Al-Alam news channel.
In a statement on Friday, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on the Justice Department to disclose the reason for Hashemi’s arrest.
CPJ said in the statement that “Iran routinely jails journalists, with at least eight behind bars in relation to their work when CPJ conducted its annual global prison census in December.”
Tensions have been high between Iran and the United States since US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of an international nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.
Several Iranian dual nationals from the United States, Britain, Austria, Canada and France have been detained in the past years in Iran and are being kept behind bars on charges including espionage and collaborating with hostile governments.


Retired Lebanese soldiers in tense standoff with army during benefit cuts protest

Updated 2 min 5 sec ago
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Retired Lebanese soldiers in tense standoff with army during benefit cuts protest

BEIRUT: Retired Lebanese soldiers on Friday came close to clashing with the country’s army when weeks of protests over planned benefit cuts reached boiling point in the capital Beirut.
Dressed in military uniforms, large numbers of veterans attempted to force their way through barricades set up to stop demonstrators reaching the city’s parliament building where a final vote on a controversial draft austerity budget was taking place.
A military source told Arab News that the Lebanese army leadership had decided to block access to Najma Square, in Beirut’s Central District, where Parliament members were sitting.
But former soldiers, joined by the parents of army martyrs and activists from the Sabaa and Communist parties, surrounded the building in nearby streets before attempting to push through barbed wire, concrete and metal barriers erected by the Lebanese army and the Internal Security Forces.
The protesters, waving Lebanese and army flags, got as far as the entrance to Maarad Street, on which Parliament is located, putting them in direct confrontation with the Lebanese troops.
Ten brigades of reinforcements were drafted in to help push back the veterans before protest leaders eased tensions by calling for a retreat to a nearby square to avoid any further clashes.
The meeting to vote on the 2019 draft budget came after a marathon three days of discussions. Before entering the parliamentary session, Lebanese Minister of Defense Elias Bou Saab said that “misleading the retired soldiers” would be “harmful to the image and demands of the protesters” and called on them to carry out “peaceful demonstrations.” He added that there had been mixed and confused messages regarding benefit cuts.
However, retired Brig. Gen. Georges Nader had vowed that protesters would not back off until the vote on their benefits was dropped.
Discussing the protests in Parliament, Samy Gemayel, president of the Phalange party, objected to the reduction in the army budget, to which Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said: “This has been concluded on the bases of an understanding with the army and the military establishment.”
MP Paula Yacoubian said that “retired soldiers are trying to storm Parliament,” to which Berri said: “Those who want to storm Parliament have not yet been born.”
The row had centered on a controversial article concerning amendments to the country’s income tax act, and Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil insisted on defending it. He said: “It does not cost the retired soldiers, for instance, more than 3,000 Lebanese pounds ($2) per month. This amount rises to 400,000 pounds for brigadiers.” He added: “Which country in the world gives a retiree 85 percent of his salary?”
After a meeting between the minister and Nader in Parliament, the retired brigadier general went out to reassure the veterans that cuts from their salaries in respect of medicine and income tax would be reduced. Less intense protests continued for more than three hours before Parliament approved the relevant article in the budget.
Meanwhile, Berri had started the Parliament session by reading a resignation submitted by Hezbollah MP Nawaf Musawi.