Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi has been released on bail after starting a hunger strike to protest against his almost seven-month detention, supporters said on Friday.
The director, a winner at all the big European film festivals, had been arrested months before the current anti-regime protests erupted.
However, his imprisonment became a symbol of the plight of artists speaking out against the authorities.
Panahi has been released from Tehran’s Evin Prison “two days after starting his hunger strike for freedom,” the US-based Center for Human Rights in Iran wrote on Twitter.
Iran’s reformist Shargh newspaper published an image of Panahi jubilantly embracing a supporter after being released on bail.
His wife, Tahereh Saeedi, posted a picture on Instagram of Panahi being driven from prison in a vehicle.
Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux expressed “great relief” at the news of his release.
“We do not forget all those, in Iran and around the world, who are subjected to violence and repression,” he said. “The Cannes Film Festival will always remain alongside artists from all over the world in defense of freedom.”
The prize-winning director was arrested in July last year, and went on a dry hunger strike on Wednesday to protest his continued detention.
“Mr Panahi was temporarily released from Evin Prison with the efforts of his family, respected lawyers and representatives of the cinema,” said Iranian House of Cinema, which groups together industry professionals.
The announcement that Panahi was going on a dry hunger strike sparked a wave of concern across the world about the director, who has won prizes at all of Europe’s top three film festivals.
“Today, like many people trapped in Iran, I have no choice but to protest against this inhumane behavior with my dearest possession — my life,” Panahi said in a statement published by his wife.
“I will remain in this state until perhaps my lifeless body is freed from prison,” he said.
Panahi, 62, was arrested on July 11 last year, and had been due to serve a six-year sentence handed down in 2010 after his conviction for “propaganda against the system.”
On Oct. 15 last year, the Iranian Supreme Court quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial, raising hopes among his legal team that he could be released, but he remained in prison.
Panahi won a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2000 for his film The Circle. In 2015, he won the Golden Bear in Berlin for Taxi Tehran, and in 2018, he won the best screenplay prize at Cannes for Three Faces.
Panahi’s latest film, No Bears, which like much of his recent work stars the director himself, was screened at the 2022 Venice Film Festival when the director was already behind bars. It won the Special Jury Prize.
“It is extraordinary, a relief, a total joy. We express our gratitude to all those who mobilized yesterday,” his French distributor Michele Halberstadt said.
“His next fight is to have the cancelation of his sentence officially recognized. He’s outside, he’s free and this is already great,” Halberstadt said.
Panahi’s July arrest came after he attended a court hearing for fellow film director Mohammad Rasoulof, who had been detained a few days earlier.
Rasoulof was released from prison on Jan. 7 after being granted a two-week furlough for health reasons and is still believed to be outside of jail.
Cinema figures have been among the thousands of people arrested by Iran in its crackdown on the protests sparked by the death in custody on Sept. 16 last year of Mahsa Amini, 22, who had been arrested for allegedly contravening its strict dress code for women.
Actor Taraneh Alidoosti, who had published images of herself without wearing the Islamic headscarf, was among those detained, although she was released early last month after being held for almost three weeks.
The US and the Philippines plan to announce new sites as soon as possible for an expanded Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which gives the Western power access to military bases in the Southeast Asian country. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr last month granted the US access to four military bases, on top of five existing locations under the 2014 EDCA, amid China’s increasing assertiveness regarding the South China Sea and Taiwan. Speaking at the Basa Air Base in Manila, one of the existing EDCA sites, US Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall said the defense agreements between the two countries
CONFLICTING ACCOUNTS: The US destroyer’s routine operations in the South China Sea would have ‘serious consequences,’ the defense ministry said China yesterday threatened “serious consequences” after the US Navy sailed a destroyer around the disputed Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) in the South China Sea for the second day in a row, in a move Beijing claimed was a breach of its sovereignty and security. The warning came amid growing tensions between China and the US in the region, as Washington pushes back at Beijing’s growingly assertive posture in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway it claims virtually in its entirety. On Thursday, after the US sailed the USS Milius guided-missile destroyer near the Paracel Islands, China said its navy and
‘DUAL PURPOSE’: Upgrading the port is essential for the Solomon Islands’ economy and might not be military focused, but ‘it is not about bases, it is about access,’ an analyst said The Solomon Islands has awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to a Chinese state company to upgrade an international port in Honiara in a project funded by the Asian Development Bank, a Solomon Islands official said yesterday. China Civil Engineering Construction Co (CCECC) was the only company to submit a bid in the competitive tender, Solomon Islands Ministry of Infrastructure Development official Mike Qaqara said. “This will be upgrading the old international port in Honiara and two domestic wharves in the provinces,” Qaqara said. Responding to concerns that the port could be deepened for Chinese naval access, he said there would be “no expansion.” The Solomon
Seven stories above a shop floor hawking cheap perfume and nylon underwear, Thailand’s “shopping mall gorilla” sits alone in a cage — her home for 30 years despite a reignited row over her captivity. Activists around the world have long campaigned for the primate to be moved from Pata Zoo, on top of a Bangkok mall, with singer Cher and actor Gillian Anderson adding their voices in 2020. However, the family who owns Bua Noi — whose name translates as “little lotus” — have resisted public and government pressure to relinquish the critically endangered animal. The gorilla has lived at Pata for more