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Iranian press review: Film directors demand release of award-winning actress

Meanwhile, political prisoners face accusations over a deadly prison fire and a law banning news with 'mal social impacts' is being drafted
Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti attends a photocall for the film "Leila's Brothers" during the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on 26 May 2022 (AFP)
Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti at the Cannes Film Festival, France, on 26 May 2022 (AFP)

Artists call for the release of actress who supported protests

Iranian cinematographers staged a protest outside Evin prison in northern Tehran against the arrest of an Iranian actress who supported the latest wave of demonstrations in the country.

Taraneh Alidoosti, an internationally acclaimed actress, was arrested on Saturday after showing support to the demonstrators who were killed and detained in protests. 

Following her arrest, a group of cinematographers gathered outside the gate of the notorious Evin prison on Monday and Tuesday and demanded her release. It is yet unclear with which accusations she was arrested and which security body detained her.

Alidoosti, 38, has worked with many famous Iranian directors, such as Asghar Farhadi, one of the few filmmakers who have won the Oscar for best foreign film twice, for A Separation and The Salesman. 

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On Tuesday, Farhadi blasted the authorities for the arrest of Alidousti and demanded her immediate release.

"She is in prison for her rightful support of her fellow countrymen and her opposition to the unjust sentences being issued," Farhadi wrote on Instagram in a post in Farsi and English.

"I stand with Taraneh and demand her release alongside that of my other fellow cineastes Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof and all the other less-known prisoners whose only crime is the attempt for a better life," he continued, referring to two directors imprisoned before the demonstrations.

The pro-reformist Etemad daily also criticised the arrest under the headline: "Empty the prisons."

"It is a strange time, and the strangest thing is the fact that no analysis makes sense of what is happening… following the news of writers, journalists, and others being arrested, you don't even understand why these people are being detained." wrote the daily.

Political prisoners face accusations over prison fire

The prison authorities filed an official complaint to the judiciary against six political prisoners over the October prison fire, during which at least eight inmates were killed, and many were severely injured.

Iranian authorities blamed the fire on a fight between two gangster groups. However, some prisoners, who later talked to their families, said the fire was the inmates' response to the tear gas shot inside the closed-door wards by the guards. 

Rights groups and family members of the inmates reported that Amir Abbas Azarvand, Meysam Golshani, Mohammad Khani, Reza Salmanzadeh, Seyyed Javad Seyyedi, and Yashar Tohidi are the political prisoners who face new accusations over the fire.

On Monday, Yashar Qazaei, another Evin prisoner on medical leave, said in a video that the six inmates were severely injured in a crackdown by special forces, and the accusation against them is aimed at silencing them. 

"By exerting more pressure on these prisoners, [The authorities] want to prevent them from complaining to international organisations or forcing them to take back their complaints if they have already done that," Qazaei said. 

Ban on publishing bad news 

Iranian lawyer Mohammad Taghi Naghd Ali said members of the parliament's law and judiciary commission prepared a draft of a law criminalising the spread of news that, according to the legislator, could have 'mal social impacts', local media reported

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"This law applies to any news with mal social impacts that hurts the society, and the publishers of such news must be punished," Naghd Ali said.

He added that in the law, punishments would also be considered for those who overstate "negative news".

"Exaggerating the news could also have a negative impact on society. So, the individuals who create that [exaggeration] must be brought to accountability," he was quoted as saying.

Naghd Ali did not provide further details about the law and the entity responsible for implementing it.

Following the anti-establishment demonstrations that erupted in mid-September, the authorities have arrested over 70 journalists and shut down one daily newspaper.

Exiting capital flow to Canada tops $70bn

As Iran suffers from high inflation and a severe economic crisis, the amount of capital that moved from the country to Canada during the past year and a half surpassed $70bn, the Ettelaat daily reported. 

Mohammad Vahidi Rad, the CEO of the Canada-Iran Business Association, told the daily that Canada had become one of the leading destinations for skilled Iranian workers, business owners, and students migrating from their home country.

According to Vahidi Rad, the pace of capital flow to Canada from Iran through immigration had increased in the past two years with the hardliners' victory in the June 2021 presidential elections.

"The number of Iranian immigrants entering Canada is still increasing, which means the amount of capital outflow is also growing," he explained.

The report added that since 2018 Ottawa has imposed more restrictions on skilled workers' immigration; however, the number of Iranians migrating to Canada continued increasing through investment, start-ups and higher education students.  

"In the past two years, about 40,000 Iranians immigrated to Canada, and if each person brought at least $60,000 with them, they all together had withdrawn about $2.4bn from the country," Vahidi Rad said.

Over 400,000 Iranians live in Canada, many of them economically dependent on sources from their home country.

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