Marzieh Hashemi on Her Abduction by the FBI
Press TV journalist/anchor Marzieh Hashemi is a joint US/Iranian citizen.
In the US last month to film a documentary for Black Lives Matter and visit family members, she was illegally arrested, detained, and horrifically mistreated by the FBI, held for 10 days on the false pretext of being a material witness in a case she and her family members knew nothing about.
She explained saying “(t)here were no charges. I was never charged. That’s the whole point.”
“I was shackled and taken there as a material witness, and I answered the questions they asked.”
“As for…giving the evidence, there was nothing to give anything about. It was just a matter of trying to intimidate me.”
There was “nothing concrete…no case to give evidence about.” The alleged reason for her abduction was a Big Lie. The US asserts its will globally by brute force.
Marzieh and countless other Blacks, Muslims, and political activists are targeted for their race, religion, and ethnicity, not for any wrongdoing.
The practice of detaining individuals as material witnesses is flagrantly unconstitutional. It breaches international law. Marzieh called her detention “a fishing expedition,” a pretext to harass her, a malicious affront to her dignity.
Her prominence elevated to a higher level by worldwide public support likely saved her, as well as having her brother with her when abducted, knowing what happened, able to spread the word on Press TV and to others, able to spread it more widely.
Otherwise, Marzieh could have been disappeared into a black hole of torture and other forms of abuse, no one knowing what happened or her whereabout, detained indefinitely, perhaps in a US torture prison at home or abroad.
What happened to Marzieh can and does happen to countless thousands of others the US targets worldwide for any reasons or none at all – doing what it pleases unaccountably.
Marzieh is a Black Muslim woman residing and working in a “wrong” country as a truth-telling journalist anchor, notions the US imperial state abhors and wants eliminated – how all police states operate, the US unique by operating globally, its military forces in over 75% of world countries, covert CIA agents everywhere.
On February 2, Marzieh delivered the following statement. Here it is in full:
“Thank you for coming today. Because of the legal sensitivities around my detention I will be giving a statement in English followed by questions from the media. A Farsi translation of my speech is available for the Iranian press.
First I would like to congratulate the Leader of the Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian nation on the fortieth anniversary of the revolution.
I would like to thank everyone at Press TV for their support during my detention. The CEO, Mr Jebeli, who has stood by me, and every single colleague, from the newsroom, website, studio, and every department – far too many to mention – who have shown solidarity with me. Thank you.
I would like to thank Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, for his public comments about my detention. I know his were one of many that were made.
I would also like to sincerely thank the tens of thousands of people across the world, whom I have never met, who mobilized to raise awareness of my imprisonment.
Across North America, Europe, and the rest of the world, including in Iran, there was an organic grassroots mobilization, of mostly young people, with many different political views, who all came together to show solidarity.
But no thanks to the many Islamic centers in the West, because most of them didn’t play the smallest part in this movement, including those mosques who should be representing an Islam that believes in resistance and fighting for the oppressed abroad that are not doing their responsibility and instead trying to dissuade people from important political activism in the West.
This brings us to the agenda to depoliticize Muslims in the West. The atmosphere of Islamophobia is being used as an excuse for Muslims to not use their voice to speak up for the oppressed as is the core of their religion. And it is this very lack of speaking up for others that’s taken our voice and our rights away.
Laws like the Material-Witness which have been passed without any strong opposition from the Muslim and black communities who are the main victims of such acts.
For those who are not familiar with the Material-Witness act, under which I was imprisoned and treated like a criminal without a single charge, it is a highly controversial law.
For almost two decades, this law has been used to systematically target innocent Muslims in America, including political activists.
On December 16th, I travelled to the United States to visit my children and other family members, including my ailing brother. I was also filming for an ongoing independent documentary project about the killing of African-Americans at the hands of the police in the United States.
One black man is killed every 28 hours in the US, mostly by the police. On Sunday 13th January, I was leaving St Louis after filming about this issue when I was stopped from boarding a domestic flight to Denver.
I was detained and transferred to a Washington DC facility by the FBI. While in jail, my civil and religious freedoms were abused. I was forced to take off my hijab. I was not given proper food to eat for several days, and I was often treated poorly, even though I had not been charged with a crime and I am a journalist.
I was jailed for 10 days as a ‘material witness’ under a controversial US law that rights organizations – and even the United States’ own court of laws – have called unconstitutional and illegal.
For almost two decades, this law has been used to systematically target innocent Muslims in America. The American Civil Liberties Union has said that the material witness statute is the most extreme – but least well known – of the government’s post-September 11 abuses.
They say that the government relies on false, flimsy or irrelevant evidence to secure arrest warrants against Muslims – harasses them to try and find evidence – and then continues to keep them imprisoned even when no such evidence exists.
The specific details of my imprisonment and court case are sealed, which means legally, I cannot talk about the specifics.
I wish I could talk to you about all the details of the case to show that there was nothing significant or specific about it. It was a broad fishing expedition. There was no credible or legitimate issue.
I understand that some comments about my arrest, or the court case have been circulating. I want to make it clear that these are not confirmed by me. This court case is sealed. The only comment with any authority on this issue is what I say for myself.
America, and other countries in the West, are systematically targeting Muslims and Black people, with institutionally racist and Islamophobic policy and laws. Fascism is at the door of these countries and Muslim communities in the West are at great risk.
I was blessed to be a well known journalist with access to the media and strong legal advice. But I want to use this opportunity not to focus on me, but all those who do not have the same voice as me. I want to highlight the message I was told by Muslims in the West, so we can have a better understanding of each other.
The grassroots community in the West, especially from the Black and Muslim community, and especially young people mobilized together to campaign against my detention in an unprecedented way.
I hope Our Islamic centers and leaders in the west should take a lesson from the Young people who have been unafraid to be politically active.
I am an African-American and have been a journalist and political activist for many decades. My husband was Iranian and I have lived in Iran for many years.
I have gotten to know Iran very well and learned to love Iran and the diversity of the Iranian people.
What happened to me tells the story of both Iran and the West. I was targeted because I live and work in Iran, but the laws that were used against me are those being used against Blacks and Muslims across the West.
What we need to do together is push for human rights and respect for people, but not through the false narrative of America.
That includes in Iran. I have been so touched by the diverse grassroots support I have received by Iranians, and I want to let you all know that I have heard your different views, including some of the critique, that felt there was a focus on America’s misuse of the law, while ignoring Iran’s.
It can be very difficult to have a global conversation that impacts two very different communities that have very different questions and critiques.
The media coverage of my detention in the West was highly politicized and was trying to frame me.
It is a fact that Western media outlets have an anti-Iran agenda that is always beating its drum towards war.
It is this agenda that drives their coverage on Iran, over-reporting on certain cases and underreporting others.
I offered my first interview after release exclusively to CBS News, and they said ‘nobody is interested in the story.’ Compare that to the coverage they give on arrests made inside Iran.
Western media are not free or fair. Six conglomerates own nearly all of the US media. In the UK, five billionaires own 80% of the UK press. Highlighting that fact is not making an excuse for Iran. It does not mean that Iran is perfect or has no flaws. Iran is neither a dystopia or a utopia.
Our revolution is 40 years old. It has profoundly impacted my life and was a key part of bringing me to this beautiful religion of Islam. Forty years on, I continue to believe in the ideals of the revolution. This does not mean there aren’t problems in Iran. There are problems in every country.
This is a separate conversation from what I have highlighted about the Islamophobia and racism of the United States. I want to take part in both discussions. We need dialogue, honesty and unity in Iran.
But, whatever is happening in Iran, a country that at the end of the day is struggling with decades of sanctions and warmongering, does not compare to the historic, systematic and institutional nature of the racist and Islamophobic polices of the United States of America, that as a Black Muslim woman, I know all too well.
What my latest trip to America has shown me is the urgency of the situation there and across Europe. I feel it is my responsibility to ring the alarm.
The situation for Muslims and Black people in the West is critical. We all need to urgently understand that and overcome our differences. The reaction to my detention proves that with unity, anything can be accomplished and this is what I will be focusing on.”
I share Marzieh’s passion for peace, equity, and justice for everyone everywhere.
I join with her in condemning the cruel and unusual punishment she was subjected to by a nation contemptuous of human and civil rights, what the US Constitution and international law prohibit.
The notion of American exceptionalism, the indispensable state, and moral superiority are dispelled by the harsh reality of its viciousness.
Countless thousands of political prisoners languish in its global gulag. By the grace of God, Marzieh was free to return home to resume her normal life and activities.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”