Iranian director Jafar Panahi released from jail, supporters say

News of his release comes amid concern over another inmate Farhad Meysami

Iranian film director Jafar Panahi was arrested in July last year. AFP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi has been released on bail after starting a hunger strike in protest against his almost seven-month detention, supporters said on Friday.

Panahi was released from Tehran's Evin prison “two days after starting his hunger strike for freedom”, the US-based Centre for Human Rights in Iran said on Twitter.

Iran's reformist Shargh newspaper published an image of Panahi embracing a supporter after being released on bail.

His wife Tahereh Saeedi posted a picture on Instagram of Panahi, who has won prizes at several major European film festivals, being driven away from the prison.

Panahi was arrested in July and later ordered to serve six years on charges of propagandising against the government, a sentence dating back to 2011 that had never been enforced.

News of his release came amid concern for another inmate, 53-year-old Farhad Meysami, after images purporting to show his emaciated form were released on social media.

Cannes film festival director Thierry Fremaux expressed “great relief” at the news of Panahi’s release.

“We do not forget all those, in Iran and around the world, who are subjected to violence and repression,” he said.

“The Cannes film festival will always remain alongside artists from all over the world in defence of freedom.”

A photo of jailed Iranian activist Farhad Meysami. Reuters

The director went on a hunger strike on Wednesday to protest against his continued detention.

“Mr Panahi was temporarily released from Evin prison with the efforts of his family, respected lawyers, and representatives of the cinema,” Iran's House of Cinema, a group of industry professionals, said in a statement.

The announcement that Panahi was going on hunger strike sparked a wave of concern around the world.

On October 15, the Supreme Court quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial, raising hopes among his legal team that he could be released, but he remained in prison.

Panahi won a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2000 for his film The Circle. In 2015, he won the Golden Bear in Berlin for Taxi Tehran, and in 2018, he won the Best Screenplay prize at Cannes for Three Faces.

Updated: February 04, 2023, 7:01 AM