Iranian TV anchor held as witness is released from US jail

This undated photo provided by Iranian state television's English-language service, Press TV, shows its American-born news anchor Marzieh Hashemi. (Press TV via AP)
Updated 24 January 2019
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Iranian TV anchor held as witness is released from US jail

  • Marzieh Hashemi was detained by federal agents last week in St. Louis and transported to Washington
  • Her detention comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from a nuclear deal

WASHINGTON: A prominent American-born anchorwoman on Iranian state television who was jailed in the US as a material witness has been released from jail, activists and a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Marzieh Hashemi, 59, was released from jail in Washington on Wednesday evening after being detained for more than 10 days, according to Abed Ayoub, an attorney with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Hashemi, who works for the Press TV network’s English-language service, was detained by federal agents Jan. 13 in St. Louis, Missouri, where she had filmed a Black Lives Matter documentary after visiting relatives in the New Orleans area, her son said. She was then transported to Washington and had remained behind bars since then.
Hashemi appeared at least twice before a US District judge in Washington, and court papers said she would be released immediately after her testimony before a grand jury. Court documents did not include details on the criminal case in which she was named a witness.
Federal law allows judges to order witnesses to be detained if the government can prove that their testimony has extraordinary value for a criminal case and that they would be a flight risk and unlikely to respond to a subpoena. The statute generally requires those witnesses to be promptly released once they are deposed.
A person familiar with the matter said Hashemi had fulfilled her obligation as a material witness and was released. The person was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Hashemi is a US citizen and was born Melanie Franklin. She lives in Tehran and comes back to the United States about once a year to see her family, usually scheduling documentary work in the US, her son said.
Asked whether his mother had been involved in any criminal activity or knew anyone who might be implicated in a crime, Hossein Hashemi said, “We don’t have any information along those lines.”
He didn’t immediately respond to a call seeking comment on Wednesday.
Marzieh Hashemi’s detention comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from a nuclear deal. Iran also faces increasing criticism of its own arrests of dual citizens and other people with Western ties.
Earlier Wednesday, dozens of activists protested outside the federal courthouse in Washington, where Hashemi was scheduled to appear before the grand jury. They held signs and chanted, “Free, free, Marzieh!” and “Shame, shame, USA!“


Landslide kills at least 15 in Colombia town, injures 5

Rescue workers carry a corpse after a landslide in Rosas, Valle del Cauca department, in southwestern Colombia, on April 21, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 11 min 26 sec ago
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Landslide kills at least 15 in Colombia town, injures 5

  • Officials said rescue workers were continuing their search for victims, removing earth and debris with heavy machinery

CARACAS, Venezuela: Heavy rains unleashed a landslide in a remote mountain town in southwestern Colombia on Sunday, killing at least 15 people and injuring five more.
The National Disaster Risk Management agency said the early morning landslide hit at least eight homes and blocked a stretch of the Pan-American Highway in the community of Rosas, roughly 400 miles (630 kilometers) southwest of Bogota.
Officials said rescue workers were continuing their search for victims, removing earth and debris with heavy machinery.
President Iván Duque sent a tweet expressing “solidarity with families of victims.”
Officials said five people were taken to local hospitals for treatment.