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.
North Korea yesterday made a rare mention of dissenting votes in recent elections, although analysts dismissed it as an attempt to portray an image of a normal society rather than signaling any meaningful increase of rights in the authoritarian state. The reclusive country has one of the most highly controlled societies in the world, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un accused of using a system of patronage and repression to retain absolute power. Reporting on the results of Sunday’s election for deputies to regional people’s assemblies, the North’s state media said that 0.09 percent and 0.13 percent voted against the selected candidates
‘SYMBOLIC ATTACK’: Ukraine said it downed 74 of the Iranian-made drones, but five people were wounded in Kyiv, as people marked Holodomor Remembrance Day Ukraine on Saturday said it had downed 74 out of 75 drones Russia launched at it overnight, in what it said was the biggest such attack since the start of the invasion in February last year. The Ukrainian army said Russia had launched a “record number” of Iranian-made Shahed drones, the majority of which targeted Kyiv, causing power cuts as temperatures dipped below freezing. The drone attack came as Ukraine marked Holodomor Remembrance Day, commemorating the 1930s starvation of millions in Ukraine under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. “The enemy launched a record number of attack drones at Ukraine. The main direction
‘SCOURGE’: About 50,000 people demonstrated in Rome after the murder of a 22-year-old university student, while others highlighted the number of femicides in their nations Thousands of people took to the streets across the world on Saturday to condemn violence against women on the international day highlighting the crime. On the UN-designated International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, protesters marched in Europe and the Americas. “The scourge of gender-based violence continues to inflict pain and injustice on too many,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement. “An estimated one in three women globally will experience physical violence, rape, or stalking at some point in their lifetimes. It’s an outrage.” In Guatemala, protesters began commemorations on Friday evening, placing candles to write out 438 —
WEATHER PROBLEM: Seoul said the launch, which comes after the North said its new spy satellite is taking images of US military facilities, was rescheduled for Saturday South Korea has delayed the planned launch of its first military spy satellite set for tomorrow, officials said, days after rival North Korea said it had put its own spy satellite into orbit for the first time. Under a contract with SpaceX, South Korea is to launch five spy satellites by 2025, and its first launch using SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket had been scheduled to take place at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base in the US. The South Korean Ministry of National Defense yesterday said in a brief statement that the launch was delayed due to weather conditions. Ministry officials said the