Iran Releases Prominent Actress on Bail

Posted July 27th, 2011 at 6:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Iran has freed a well-known dissident actress from prison following heightened criticism of its crackdown on artists and rights activists.

Pegah Ahangarani, an outspoken supporter of Iran's opposition Green Movement, was released Wednesday from Tehran's Evin Prison on $84,000 bail.

The popular 27-year-old actress was arrested earlier this month when she was about to leave for Germany to write a blog for the international radio broadcaster Deutsche Welle about the women's soccer World Cup.

Deutsche Welle says Ahangarani's relatives told the station it remains unclear what she is accused of and that authorities have warned her not to speak to the media.

Another dissident, Mahnaz Mohammadi, a documentary filmmaker, also was released on bail Wednesday. She was detained by security officials in June.

Ahangarani's arrest sparked particular outrage among foreign governments and human rights organizations.

A spokesman for Iran's judiciary deflected the criticism, saying “no one has been arrested merely because they are an actor.” Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei told Iran's semi-official Ilna news agency Wednesday that only those who have committed a crime are prosecuted.

Many members of the Iranian film industry who supported opposition candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi during the country's disputed 2009 election have faced arrest, threats and travel bans.

Last year, internationally acclaimed directors Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof each received six-year prison terms. Panahi also was banned for 20 years from filmmaking, granting interviews or traveling abroad.

Both are currently on bail pending appeals to their cases.