The NGO Center for Human Rights in Iran explains that he was released after starting a hunger strike.
Renowned Iranian director Jafar Panahi, imprisoned for nearly seven months in Iran, was released on bail on Friday, the NGO Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI, based in New York) announced. Jafar Panahi, whose films have won awards at several European film festivals, has been releasedtwo days after starting a hunger strike“, according to the CHRI, while the Iranian newspaper Shargh posted a photo of Panahi hugging one of his supporters upon his release from Tehran’s Evin prison.
«It’s extraordinary, a relief, a total joy“, reacted the French producer Michèle Halberstadt, who distributes her films. “His next fight is to officially recognize the cancellation of his sentence. He’s outside, he’s free, it’s already great“, she added for AFP.
Jafar Panahi, 62, was arrested in July even before the start of the wave of protest actions that have rocked the Iranian regime since September. He was due to serve a six-year prison sentence handed down in 2010 for “propaganda against the system».
In a statement released by his wife on Thursday, the director announced that he had gone on hunger strike on February 1 to protest his conditions of detention. “I’ll stay like this until maybe my lifeless body is freed from prison“, he had warned.
The Cannes Film Festival and two collectives of French filmmakers had called for his release. Jafar Panahi won a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2000 for his film The circle. In 2015 he was awarded a Golden Bear in Berlin for Taxi Tehran and, in 2018, he won Best Screenplay for Three Faces at the Cannes Film Festival.
Jafar Panahi’s last film, No Bear, which, like most of his recent works, features him directly, was screened in 2022 at the Venice Film Festival when he was already imprisoned. He had won the special jury prize.