Iranwire – Jafar Panahi, one of Iran’s best-known filmmakers, was released from prison on bail, two days after he announced he was launching a hunger strike to protest his continued detention.
Social media footage shows Panahi meeting with his family outside Tehran’s notorious Evin prison late on February 3.
The Cannes film festival award-winner and director of The White Balloon, The Circle and No Bears was arrested in early July 2022, before the eruption of the current wave of nationwide demonstrations, after he protested the detention of two other filmmakers.
The Iranian authorities decided to reactivate a sentence imposed on him in 2010, but his lawyer has argued it had passed Iran’s 10-year statute of limitations period and was no longer applicable.
The 62-year-old director was granted permission to apply for a retrial in a move that should have resulted in his release on bail, but the authorities had blocked this until February 3.
Earlier in the day, the official guild of Iranian cineastes expressed “great concern” about the health of Panahi and another jailed filmmaker, Mozhgan Ilanlou, and urged the authorities to release them immediately.
“An unfortunate incident may happen at any moment due to his age and poor physical condition,” the House of Cinema said, adding that Ilanlou is facing a “humiliating and severe sentence” in prison with a broken leg.
Last month, Ilanlou was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 74 lashes after she published photos of herself without the mandatory headscarf.
Ilanlou’s arrest and prosecution came amid a brutal crackdown by the Islamic Republic on nationwide protests demanding more freedoms and women’s rights. More than 520 people have been killed so far and over 18,000 detained, activists say. Following biased trials, the judiciary handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.