CAIRO (AP) — Iranian authorities arrested one of the country’s most renowned actresses Saturday on charges of spreading falsehoods about nationwide protests that grip the country, state media said.
The report by IRNA said Taraneh Alidoosti, star of the Oscar-winning movie “The Salesman,” was detained a week after she made a post on Instagram expressing solidarity with the first man recently executed for crimes allegedly committed during the protests.
The announcement is the latest in a series of celebrity arrests, that have included footballers, actors and influencers, in response to their open display of support for anti-government demonstrations now in their third month
According to the report published on the state media’s official Telegram channel, Alidoosti was arrested because she did not provide ”any documents in line with her claims.″
It said that several other Iranian celebrities had also ″been summoned by the judiciary body over publishing provocative content,″ and that some had been arrested. It provided no further details.
In her post, the 38-year-old actress said: ″His name was Mohsen Shekari. Every international organization who is watching this bloodshed and not taking action, is a disgrace to humanity.”
Shekari was executed Dec. 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.
In November, Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi, two other famous Iranian actresses, were arrested by authorities for expressing solidarity with protesters on social media. Voria Ghafouri, an Iranian soccer player, was also arrested last month for ’’insulting the national soccer team and propagandizing against the government.” All three have been released.
Since September, Alidoosti has openly expressed solidarity with protesters in at least three posts on Instagram. Her account, which had some 8 million followers, has been suspended.
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. Iranian authorities alleged Rahnavard stabbed two members of its paramilitary force.
Both Shekari and Rahnavard were executed less than a month after they were charged, underscoring the speed at which Iran now carries out death sentences imposed for alleged crimes related to the demonstrations. Activists say at least a dozen people have been sentenced to death in closed-door hearings. Iran is one of the one the world’s top executioners.
Iran has been rocked by protests since the Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died after being detained by the morality police. The protests have since morphed into one of the most serious challenges to Iran’s theocracy installed by the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Alidoosti had previously criticised the Iranian government and its police force before this year’s protests.
In June 2020, she was given a suspended five-month prison sentence after she criticized the police on Twitter in 2018 for assaulting a woman who had removed her headscarf.
At least 495 people have been killed in the demonstrations amid a harsh security crackdown, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has been monitoring the protests since they began. Over 18,200 people have been detained by authorities.
Other well-known movies Alidoosti has starred in include “The Beautiful City” and “About Elly.”