A U.S. born journalist working for the Iranian state broadcaster PressTV was detained by the United States government on Wednesday.
Marzieh Hashemi, a prominent news reader for the media organization’s English language news arm was picked up by authorities in St. Louis after filming a documentary about the “Black Lives Matter” movement. She had previously been visiting relatives in New Orleans, the Associated Press reported. Hashemi lives in Tehran full-time and has worked at PressTV for 25 years.
It’s unclear what sparked the detention. A spokesperson for the FBI did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.
In a PressTV news report, company CEO Peyman Jebelli demanded her immediate release and an apology from the United States.
“We call for the immediate and unconditional release of Ms. Hashemi and for the U.S. government to apologize to both the journalists and the international media community for her harsh treatment,” he said. “Journalism is not a crime, yet the principles of free speech and a free press are still threatened in the United States.”
“Ms. Hashemi is an outspoken critic of the U.S. government and it’s regional allies. I would like to express my strong protest at her apprehension and her violent treatment,” Jebelli continued. “She has yet to be given any reason for her imprisonment. Her feeble health condition necessitates urgent medical attention.”
The PressTV story on Hashemi said the broadcaster was only being offered pork while in detention, which her Muslim faith prevents her from eating.
Iran has it’s own history of detaining journalists, including those from major American publications. Most famously, the country held the Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian for 544 days as a prisoner after he was convicted on espionage charges in a closed door trial. Rezaian has demanded $1 billion in legal restitution from the country in a lawsuit he filed earlier this month.
Iran also typically scores toward the bottom of U.S. press trackers, with Freedom House’ 2017 profile bluntly declaring the country’s media “not free.”