Hawzah News Agency (Tehran, Iran) - Hashemi, a 59-year-old US-born Muslim convert who has lived in Iran for years, was detained at St. Louis Lambert International Airport in Missouri on January 13 while in the US to visit her sick brother and other family members.
'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,' Hashemi said addressing a press conference with Iranian and Foreign journalists.
She added, 'For almost two decades, this law has been used to systematically target innocent Muslims in America.'
'The material witness statute is the most extreme-but least well-known- of the government's post-September 11 abuses,' she quoted the American Civil Liberties Union as saying.
'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 continue to keep them imprisoned even when no such evidence exists,' she reiterated.
Elsewhere in her remarks, Hashemi criticized many of the Islamic centers in the US for not playing any role in the campaign created to release her, saying, '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.'
Meanwhile, she condemned the efforts made by the West to promote media hype against Muslims, saying, 'This brings us to the agenda to depoliticize Muslims in the West. The atmosphere of Islamophobia is being used as an excuse for Muslims not to use their voice to speak up for the oppressed as is the core of their religion.'
Criticizing the US for violating human rights and for undermining what it claims breach of human rights in other countries, she said 'while in jail, my civil and religious freedoms were abused, I was forced to take off my hijab'.
She added, '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.'
The Iranian anchor appreciated the efforts made by Iranians, especially that of Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and said, 'I know his were one of many that were made.'
'The US government needs to explain how Marzieh Hashemi—a journalist and grandmother—is such a flight risk that she must be incarcerated until she finishes her testimony to a grand jury. 50 years after MLK assassination, the US still violates the civil rights of black men and women,' Zarif had tweeted earlier.