rferl.org – Popular Iranian rapper Tataloo has been released from detention in Turkey a week after being arrested by police amid concerns that he could be deported to Iran.
Tataloo, whose real name is Amir Hossein Maghsoodloo, posted a video on February 3 on his Instagram page, which has nearly 3 million followers, in which he is seen leaving what appears to be a detention center in Istanbul, where he had been held in recent days.
Iranian police officials have said Tataloo was arrested on January 28 after Interpol issued a “red alert” for him.
Police spokesman Ahmad Nourian was quoted by Iranian news agencies on January 28 as saying that Iran’s judicial authorities had made the request for Tataloo’s arrest “for encouraging citizens, especially young people, to use drugs, especially psychotropic drugs, and for spreading corruption.”
But Turkish police told the BBC that Tataloo, who had been living in Turkey recently, was arrested for “visa violations,” while also confirming that a red alert had been issued for the rapper on drug-related issues.
Ahead of his arrest, the rapper, who has been detained in Iran several times — including in 2013 for alleged cooperation with satellite channels — was due to travel to Britain to play a concert.
Many of Tataloo’s fans had called for his release from detention in Turkey while expressing concern that he would be handed over to Iran, where he could face an unfair trial and torture.
An online petition calling for his release had garnered nearly 500,000 signatures.
In a recent music video titled Hell, Tataloo was seen in an Iranian court and later in a jail, where he was being interrogated and then taken to the gallows:
The controversial, heavily tattooed rapper supported hard-line candidate Ebrahim Raisi during the country’s 2017 presidential vote.
In a video clip posted online,
Raisi, who was defeated by President Hassan Rohani and was later
appointed as the head of the judiciary, was seen talking to Tataloo and
praising his work.
In 2015, Tataloo praised Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities in a nationalistic music video where the singer was seen on the deck of an Iranian warship in the waters of the Persian Gulf:
In recent months, Tataloo was critical of Iranian authorities. He had been also accused of insulting Islamic sanctities.