Taraneh Alidoosti: Cannes Film Festival demands release of arrested Iranian actress

The star of Oscar-winning film The Salesman was taken into custody on Saturday

Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti at the screening of 'Leila's Brothers' at the Cannes Film Festival in May. AFP
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Cannes Film Festival called on Monday for the immediate release of award-winning actress Taraneh Alidoosti, one of the most prominent people to have been arrested in Iran's months-long protests.

“The @Festival_Cannes strongly condemns this arrest and demands her immediate release,” it wrote on Twitter, along with the hashtag #FreeTaranehAlidoosti.

“In solidarity with the peaceful struggle she is carrying out for freedom and women's rights, the @Festival_Cannes extends their full support to her.”

Alidoosti, 38, was arrested on Saturday, official media said, after making a string of social media posts supporting the protest movement — including removing her headscarf and condemning the execution of protesters.

The unrest was sparked by the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, 22, whom the morality police accused of violating the Islamic Republic's strict dress code for women.

Alidoosti's arrest came a week after she posted on Instagram expressing solidarity with the first man recently executed for crimes allegedly committed during the nationwide protests, the Irna news agency said.

In her post, the actress said: “His name was Mohsen Shekari. Every international organisation that is watching this bloodshed and not taking action is a disgrace to humanity.” Her account was suspended on Sunday.

Taraneh Alidoosti earlier posted a picture on Instagram that showed her holding a sign saying 'Woman. Life. Freedom'. Photo: Taraneh Alidoosti

Alidoosti was arrested because she did not provide ’’any documents in line with her claims″, according to the report published on the state media’s official Telegram channel.

Shekari was executed on December 9 after being charged by an Iranian court with blocking a street in Tehran and attacking a member of the country’s security forces with a machete.

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 gruesome warning to others.

Alidoosti, who starred in the Oscar-winning The Salesman, was in Cannes in May to promote Leila's Brothers.

A representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said it was “seriously concerned” by the detention of Alidoosti “for simply expressing her views on the current protests and particularly the execution of Mohsen Shekari, the first protester to be executed in the context of demonstrations.”

British pop group the Pet Shop Boys also tweeted about the case, saying: “Iran's fascist government has executed protesters recently which Taraneh has condemned.”

— Additional reporting by AFP

Updated: December 19, 2022, 3:32 PM