Free Black journalist Marzieh Hashemi!


Journalist Marzieh Hashemi is locked away in a federal jail in Washington, D.C. According to the court order written by a federal judge, she “has not been accused of any crime.” It is hard to believe that she or anyone else can be held despite not being charged, but such is the case with the American criminal ‘justice’ system.

The terror attacks of September 11, 2001 were the pretext for dispensing with the few constitutional rights that Americans had left. One of those was the right to be charged and to face one’s accusers. Being held as a so-called material witness is now the favorite way for prosecutors to get their hands on anyone they want for any reason they want, and to hold that person indefinitely.

Black journalist

Marzieh Hashemi is an African-American journalist who married an Iranian and made a life in his country. She is a reporter for Iran’s Presstv. In that role, she has interviewed this columnist and many others who present viewpoints that are censored by the American corporate media.

Hashemi is an American citizen, but her passport didn’t prevent her from being arrested on a recent visit to her home country. She was detained for at least two days before being allowed to contact her family. She has appeared twice before a judge who says that the United States “expects that she will be released immediately following the completion of a grand jury investigating violations of U.S. criminal law.” No one knows what that grand jury is investigating or when its work will be done.

Her Kafkaesque detention is purely political. Donald Trump’s foreign policy is driven by strict adherence to Israeli and Saudi Arabian dictates; that means using every means to attack Iran.

Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the so-called Iran nuclear deal. The withdrawal meant that Iran was once again subjected to punishing sanctions meant to destroy its economy and popular support for its government. Fanatics like National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speak openly of regime change.

Innocent victim

Hashemi has fallen victim to racism, imperialism and the determination to eviscerate constitutional protections. Iran has been demonized by American politicians and the media ever since the revolution of 1977. During that time, the U.S. waged a deadly war of aggression with the connivance of then-ally Saddam Hussein, shot down a civilian airliner, assisted Israel in assassination and destabilization plots, and brought that nation’s economy to the brink with sanctions.

While Hashemi’s detention is the fault of the Trump team, the reaction has been far too muted. None of the individuals or organizations thought of as ‘Black leadership’ have come forward to defend her.

The National Association of Black Journalists continues in its role as a glorified employment agency and has said nothing about Hashemi’s plight. The NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus are equally quiet. If a Black American representative of corporate media were imprisoned in Iran, there would be expressions of tremendous outrage from all of these groups. But Hashemi is not seen as one of their people, and is considered unworthy of any consideration.

Black America’s representational class moved to the right a long time ago. They won’t even go through the motions of defending Hashemi because she falls outside the realm of acceptable thoughts and actions. As loyal servants of the Democratic Party and the ruling elites, they are as willing to keep her ‘disappeared’ and out of sight as the Trump administration is.

No stomach to fight

Marzieh Hashemi’s freedom ought to be a cause cèlébre with ordinary people and prominent persons all agitating for her release. But the corporate media are more compliant to the will of the state, and many Black people no longer see themselves as having common cause with the oppressed around the world.

The resistance and their pink pussycat hats are equally useless and have no stomach to fight the true evils of the Trump presidency. In one fell swoop, the administration attacked Iran, any American who might speak on its behalf, and the rights of the press. Yet the people who claim to resist can’t find the words to speak at all.

The phoniness of opposition to Trump can be seen clearly. The expressions of hatred and mockery directed towards him are endless. But when a clear opportunity arises to oppose what is most dangerous about his administration, the only sound is silence.

The demand for Marzieh Hashemi’s freedom is the new litmus test for anyone claiming to fight Trump, fascism, or racism. Those who fail to speak on her behalf are showing their true colors and are themselves unworthy of consideration. Their cowardice must never be forgotten.


Margaret Kimberley is a co-founder of and writes a weekly column there. Contact her at Click on this commentary at to write your own response.


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