Iranian Authorities Arrest Oscar-Winning Film Actress

CAIRO (AP) — Iranian authorities on Saturday arrested one of the country’s best-known actresses on charges of spreading falsehoods about nationwide protests gripping the country, state media said.

The IRNA report says that Taraneh Alidoosti, star of the Oscar-winning film “The Salesman”, was detained a week after she made an Instagram post expressing solidarity with the first man to be recently executed for crimes allegedly committed during the protests.

The announcement is the latest in a series of arrests of celebrities, including footballers, actors and influencers, in response to their open show of support for the anti-government demonstrations now in their third month.

According to the report published on the official Telegram channel of state media, Alidoosti was detained because she did not provide “any document consistent with her claims.”

He said several other Iranian celebrities had also “been cited by the judiciary for posting provocative content” and that some had been arrested. He did not provide further details.

In her post, the 38-year-old actress said: “His name was Mohsen Shekari. Any international organization that is watching this bloodshed and not taking action is a disgrace to humanity.”

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.

In November, authorities arrested Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi, two other famous Iranian actresses, for expressing solidarity with protesters on social media. Voria Ghafouri, an Iranian soccer player, was also arrested last month for “insulting the national soccer team and making anti-government propaganda.” All three have been released.

Since September, Alidoosti has openly expressed solidarity with the protesters in at least three posts on Instagram. Her account, which had some 8 million followers, has been suspended.

Last week, Iran executed a second prisoner, Majidreza Rahnavard, in connection with the protests. Rahnavard’s body was left hanging from a construction crane as a dire warning to others. Iranian authorities alleged that Rahnavard stabbed two members of his paramilitary force.

Both Shekari and Rahnavard were executed less than a month after being charged, underscoring how quickly Iran is now carrying out death sentences imposed for alleged protest-related crimes. Activists say at least a dozen people have been sentenced to death in closed-door hearings. Iran is one of the main executioners in the world.

Iran has been rocked by protests since the death on September 16 of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died after being detained by morality police. Since then, the protests have become one of the most serious challenges to the Iranian theocracy established by the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Alidoosti had previously criticized the Iranian government and its police force ahead of this year’s protests.

In June 2020, he received a five-month suspended prison sentence after he criticized police on Twitter in 2018 for assaulting a woman who had removed her veil.

At least 495 people have been killed in protests amid a harsh security crackdown, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran. This group has been monitoring the protests since they began. Authorities have detained more than 18,200 people.

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

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