The “No Bears” director remained incarcerated in Iran’s Evin prison despite Iranian courts overturning his conviction in late January.
No Bears director Jafar Panahi has been successfully released from prison after being held since July 2022.
Panahi, who recently went on hunger strike to protest his imprisonment, was arrested after he questioned the arrest of filmmakers Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad following social media protests over the Iranian government’s response to the building collapse that killed 40 people.
As previously reported, Panahi’s investigation reactivated a six-year prison sentence handed down in 2010 and a 20-year ban on filmmaking and travel after Panahi attended a 2009 funeral for a student killed in the Green Movement, where Iranian citizens demanded the then- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Panahi has remained in prison since his trial in July 2022.
IndieWire can confirm that Panahi’s wife, Tahereh Saeidi, phoned Mansour Jahani, an independent and international cinema reporter, that Panahi was released from Tehran’s Evin prison through the efforts of his lawyers, Saleh Nikbakht and Yusef Moulai.
“While I am happy about Mr. Panahi’s release, we must say that his release should have happened three months ago after we accepted our objection to his previous court decision,” said Iranian lawyer Saleh Nikbakht. “I am surprised by these ‘gavel meetings’ with Mr. Panahi and other artists, writers, intellectuals and journalists, and generally those who protest against the status quo, as they neglect to implement even the decision of the highest judicial authority.”
Nikbakht continued: “The Supreme Court decision was issued following our objection to Mr. Panahi’s previous sentence on October 18, 2022, and Mr. Panahi should have been released immediately.
In January 2023, Panahi’s wife Saeidi shared on Instagram: “Last week we found out that Jafar is coming out in a week. We are happy again. A week has passed and Jafar is still not with us. Exactly 200 days have passed. We are desperate… Jafar’s release is in full accordance with their own laws, but they are above the law, without respect for the law.”
While Panahi remained in prison despite the announcement of his release, the “Three Faces” director said of his incarceration: “It’s just an excuse for repression. Even though I knew that the justice system and security institutions have no will to enforce the law (which they insist on), but out of respect for my lawyers and friends, I went through all legal avenues to be right; Today, like many people trapped in Iran, I have no choice but to protest these inhumane behaviors with my most precious possession, which is my life.”
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