Iran Releases Actress Taraneh Alidoosti From Evin Prison: NPR

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Prominent Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti (center) holds flowers as she poses for a photo among her friends after being released from Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran, on Wednesday.

Gisoo Faghfouri/AP


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Gisoo Faghfouri/AP


Prominent Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti (center) holds flowers as she poses for a photo among her friends after being released from Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran, on Wednesday.

Gisoo Faghfouri/AP

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Iran released a prominent actress from an Oscar-winning film on Wednesday, nearly three weeks after she was arrested for criticizing the crackdown on anti-government protests, local reports said.

Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency said Taraneh Alidoosti, the 38-year-old star of Asghar Farhadi’s 2016 Oscar-winning film “The Salesman”, has been released on bail. Her mother, Nadere Hakimelahi, had previously said that she would be released in an Instagram post.

Upon her release from Tehran’s notorious Evin prison on Wednesday, Alidoosti posed with bouquets of flowers, surrounded by friends. No further details about her case were released.

Alidoosti was among several Iranian celebrities who voiced support for the nationwide protests and criticized the authorities’ violent crackdown on dissidents. She had posted at least three messages supporting the protests on Instagram before her account was deactivated.

One message expressed solidarity with the first man to be executed on charges linked to the protests, which were triggered by the death of a woman in police custody and turned into widespread calls for the overthrow of Iran’s ruling clerics.

The protests mark one of the biggest challenges for the Islamic Republic since it was established after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Security forces used live ammunition, bird bullets, tear gas and batons to disperse protesters, according to human rights groups. .

Mohsen Shekari was executed on December 9 after being accused by an Iranian court of blocking a street in Tehran and attacking a member of the country’s security forces with a machete. A week later, Iran executed a second prisoner, Majidreza Rahnavard, by public hanging. He was accused of stabbing two members of the Basij paramilitary militia, which is leading the crackdown.

Activists say at least a dozen people have been sentenced to death in closed-door hearings on charges linked to the protests.

“His name was Mohsen Shekari,” wrote Alidoosti on an account with about 8 million followers before his arrest. “Any international organization that watches this bloodshed and does not act is a disgrace to humanity.”

Iranian reports on Alidoosti’s release do not say whether she has been charged with anything or will face trial. It was also unclear whether she faces travel restrictions as part of her release terms.

At least 516 protesters were killed and more than 19,000 people were arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that closely monitored the unrest. Iranian authorities have not provided an official count of those killed or detained.

Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi, two other famous Iranian actresses, were arrested in November for expressing solidarity with protesters on social media. Voria Ghafouri, an Iranian football star, was also arrested that month for “insulting the national football team and propaganda against the government”.

The protests began in mid-September, when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died after being arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. Women have played a leading role in the protests, with many publicly removing the mandatory Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab.

Protesters say they have had enough after decades of political and social repression. One of the main slogans is “Death to the dictator”, referring to Iran’s supreme leader, 83-year-old Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has held the country’s highest office for more than three decades.

Iranian officials blame the United States and other foreign powers for the protests. State-linked media highlighted attacks on security forces, while authorities imposed heavy restrictions on coverage of the demonstrations, including periodically cutting off access to the internet.

Khamenei, who has said little about the protests, addressed Islamic dress on Wednesday at a meeting with women, saying the hijab was necessary but that those who did not “completely observe” the practice “should not be accused of being non-religious”. or against the revolution”.

Even before the protests, many Iranian women wore the headscarf loosely, and the authorities sometimes relaxed its application, especially during the presidency of Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who ruled from 2013 to 2021. His successor, hardliner Ebrahim Raisi , moved to tighten the restrictions.

Alidoosti has previously criticized the Iranian government and its police force before this year’s protests.

In June 2020, she was given a five-month suspended prison sentence after criticizing police on Twitter in 2018 for assaulting a woman who had removed her headscarf.

In “The Salesman”, she played a woman whose relationship with her husband is cut short after she is sexually assaulted in their apartment. The story unfolds against the backdrop of a local performance of Arthur Miller’s classic play “Death of a Salesman”, in which the woman and her husband are the main characters.

Other well-known films that Alidoosti starred in include “The Beautiful City” and “About Elly”.

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