Iranian TV denies any plans to interview Pompeo

July 28, 2019 - 20:2

TEHRAN – Iran’s English-speaking Press TV channel says the news outlet has no plan to hold an interview with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, after Western media misquoted another Iranian official that the U.S. diplomat was invited to an interview.

On Thursday, Pompeo said he was willing to go to Iran and appear on Iranian TV amid tensions between Tehran and Washington.

Asked if he would be willing to go to Tehran, Pompeo said in an interview with Bloomberg TV, “Sure. If that’s the call, I’d happily go there... I would welcome the chance to speak directly to the Iranian people.”

Peyman Jebelli, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting’s deputy head and the CEO of IRIB’s World Service, which includes Press TV, said in an interview on Sunday, “We have neither made a request to have an interview [with Pompeo], nor have any plan to arrange an interview with America’s Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo,” according to the TV channel’s website.

Jebelli’s remarks came after Ali Rabiei, the spokesman for the Rouhani administration, said in his weekly press conference earlier the day that if Pompeo is willing to talk to Iranian reporters, he can have an interview with Press TV correspondent and anchor, Marziyeh Hashemi, who was detained by the U.S. government on baseless grounds during a visit to meet with his family in the United States in January 2019.

“Pompeo has said that he is willing to talk to Iranian reporters. We say that we have Ms. Marziyeh Hashemi, who can talk to him and we are not going to avoid this issue,” he added.

Among other Western news outlets, the AFP published a misinformed version of Rabiei’s remarks, with the running headline “Iran invites Pompeo for interview by reporter once detained in U.S.”

Hashemi, a 59-year-old American-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 U.S. to visit her ill brother and other family members.

She was transferred to a detention facility in Washington, DC, where she was initially forced to remove her hijab and only offered non-halal food.

The FBI declined to comment on her arrest, but the U.S. government confirmed that she had been arrested as a “material witness.”

Hashemi’s arrest and suffering in U.S. jail drew condemnations inside the U.S. and abroad, sparking rallies in several countries.

She was eventually released 10 days later without any charge and returned to Iran.