NEW YORK—In response to the reported arrest and subsequent detention of Marzieh Hashemi, an American-born journalist for Iranian state television, in St. Louis, where she had reportedly filmed a documentary about Black Lives Matter, PEN America’s Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Nossel released the following statement:

“Without further information about why Hashemi was arrested, there are concerns about whether she is being targeted either for her documentary work about Black Lives Matter or as a retaliatory action in response to the Iranian government’s detention of American citizens. Either case would be an egregious violation of democratic norms. It would be shocking to see the U.S. following the model, often employed by China and Iran, of detaining citizens of a country they consider hostile on spurious grounds, including to serve as a bargaining chip. If there are other grounds for Hashemi’s detention they must be made clear, otherwise she should be released immediately.”   


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager: [email protected]