FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Silence of the Lambs: The Case of Marzieh Hashemi

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

In the wake of the outcry after the abduction and murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi—in a foreign country and under the directive of a rogue Crown Prince—one would think the threshold to condemn the detention of an American journalist in the United States without charge or trial would be quite low. Unfortunately, it has proven to be nearly insurmountable.

Marzieh Hashemi, a US citizen and anchorwoman of Iran’s English-language news station, PressTV, had been held under these circumstances for 10 days beginning shortly after her arrival to St. Louis Lambert International AirportJan. 12 to work on a documentary on the Black Lives Matter movement. She was finally released, again without charge, on Wed Jan. 23.

Hashemi was purportedly an alleged material witness in an as-yet unspecified investigation. She was forced to remove her headscarf and offered pork to eat, both against the tenets of her religion, before being transferred to Washington, D.C. to an unknown location.

As such, the muted response of those organizations whose primary purpose is to stand for press freedoms and human rights and against religious intolerance was rather remarkable.

The Committee to Protect Journalists “expressed concern” in their statementon the situation but simultaneously found it necessary to add that, “Iran routinely jails journalists” as if to provide pretext for the US to do likewise.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the self-proclaimed largest US Muslim civil rights advocacy organization, called onthe Department of Justice to merely “explain” why an American citizen living in Iran was deprived of her religious and due process rights. Indeed, CAIR’s national executive director politely asked law enforcement officials to just “clarify” the matter.

The incarceration of Hashemi was nowhere to be found on the Reporters Without Borders action page. Even the American Civil Liberties Union was seemingly mum on the case despite its salient “No Charges? No Trials? No Justice” articleon Indefinite Detention.

The FBI and federal officials confirmed Hasehemi was not accused of or charged with any crime although little else is being said. The allowance that a witness may be so held if they are considered a flight risk, unwilling to respond to a subpoena or testify in a criminal proceeding of vital importance is more properly debated in legal circles (never mind that the myriad of legal experts routinely appearing on the various US cable news channels have not said anything on Hashemi but had the time to speak at length about CNN’s Jim Acosta’s ban from White House press briefings). However, the circumstances of Hashemi’s detention, that she is employed by an Iranian television station and in the context of the bellicose rhetoric adopted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisory John Bolton against Iran, made her confinement more than suspect.

Regardless of the legal ramifications and precedent set, the silence of groups and organizations regarding her ill-treatment and custody set an equally dangerous one. It highlights what little courage it takes to condemn atrocities committed abroad by foreign governments yet the mistreatment of an American journalist on domestic soil by US authorities will go unchecked.

It is this duplicitous, timid, half-hearted-to-absent response which requires “explanation” and “clarification” for us all.

More articles by:

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on Middle East affairs.

Weekend Edition
August 07, 2020
Friday - Sunday
John Davis
The COVID Interregnum
Louis Yako
20 Postcard Notes From Iraq: With Love in the Age of COVID-19
Patrick Cockburn
War and Pandemic Journalism: the Truth Can Disappear Fast
Eve Ottenberg
Fixing the COVID Numbers
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Every Which Way to Lose
Paul Street
Trump is Not Conceding: This is Happening Here
Robert Hunziker
The World on Fire
Rob Urie
Neoliberal Centrists and the American Left
John Laforge
USAF Vet Could Face ‘20 Days for 20 Bombs’ for Protest Against US H-Bombs Stationed in Germany
Andrew Levine
Clyburn’s Complaint
Kavaljit Singh
Revisiting the Idea of Pigou Wealth Tax in the Time of Covid-19
Paul Ryder
Here Come the 1968 Mistakes Again
T.J. Coles
Fighting Over Kashmir Could Blow Up the Planet
David Macaray
Haven’t We All Known Guys Who Were Exactly like Donald Trump?
Conn Hallinan
What’s Driving the Simmering Conflict Between India and China
Joseph Natoli
American Failures: August, 2020
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid or One State: Has Jordan Broken a Political Taboo?
Bruce Hobson
The US Left Needs Humility to Understand Mexican Politics
David Rosen
Easy Targets: Trump’s Attacks on Transgendered People
Ben Debney
The Neoliberal Virus
Evelyn Leopold
Is Netanyahu Serious About Annexing Jordan Valley?
Nicky Reid
When the Chickens Came Home to Roost In Portlandistan
Irma A. Velásquez Nimatuj
The Power of the White Man and His Symbols is Being De-Mystified
Kathy Kelly
Reversal: Boeing’s Flow of Blood
Brian Kelly
Ireland and Slavery: Framing Irish Complicity in the Slave Trade
Ariela Ruiz Caro
South American Nations Adopt Different COVID-19 Stategies, With Different Results
Ron Jacobs
Exorcism at Boston’s Old West Church, All Hallows Eve 1971
J.P. Linstroth
Bolsonaro’s Continuous Follies
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
Right-Wing Populism and the End of Democracy
Dean Baker
Trump’s Real Record on Unemployment in Two Graphs
Michael Welton
Listening, Conflict and Citizenship
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump Is The Only One Who Should Be Going To School This Fall
John Feffer
America’s Multiple Infections
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Thinking Outside the Social Media Echo Chamber
Andrea Mazzarino
The Military is Sick
John Kendall Hawkins
How the Middle Half Lives
Graham Peebles
The Plight of Refugees and Migrant Workers under Covid
Robert P. Alvarez
The Next Coronavirus Bill Must Protect the 2020 Election
Greg Macdougall
Ottawa Bluesfest at Zibi: Development at Sacred Site Poses Questions of Responsibility
CounterPunch News Service
Tensions Escalate as Logging Work Commences Near Active Treesits in a Redwood Rainforest
Louis Proyect
The Low Magic of Charles Bukowski
Gloria Oladipo
Rural America Deserves a Real COVID-19 Response
Binoy Kampmark
Crossing the Creepy Line: Google, Deception and the ACCC
Marc Norton
Giants and Warriors Give Their Workers the Boot
David Yearsley
Celebration of Change
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail