After nearly three months in Tehran's notorious Evin prison since his March 1 arrest without charge, and after a week on hunger strike in protest of his unjust imprisonment, renowned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi has been released from Evin on bail.
From the Only Democracy For Iran Green blog via the Iranian Student News Agency comes word that internationally renowned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi has been released from Evin prison on bail. Mr. Panahi's bond was set at 200 million rial, which translates to just over $20,000.00 in U.S. dollars. Mr. Panahi began a hunger strike just over a week ago to protest his unjust imprisonment.
Mr. Panahi's plight has been attracting a great deal of international attention ever since a group of America's most famous filmmakers issued a joint statement calling for his release in New York City on April 30, just as the Tribeca Film Festival wrapped there. The Cannes Film Festival, which had reserved an empty jury chair in Mr. Panahi's honor, brought even more gold-plated attention to Mr. Panahi's case. Famed American director and Cannes jury chair Tim Burton called for Mr. Panahi's release on the first day of the festival. Many other A-list celebrities and public figures called for Mr. Panahi's release from Evin during festival events.
Some of Mr. Panahi's most public and vocal advocates during Cannes were French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand (who has been most loudly and publicly demanding Jafar Panahi's release since March 1 arrest), award-winning Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami (a frequent creative film collaborator with Mr. Panahi), and actress Juliette Binoche, who broke down in tears at a Cannes press conference upon hearing of an additional two months added to Mr. Panahi's incarceration for sending a thank you note to Cannes through his family. Mr. Panahi was arrested in a raid on his home in Tehran on March 1, along with his wife, daughter and sixteen guests. All were released shortly thereafter, except for Mr. Panahi.
According to the linked Only Democracy For Iran report, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi told the ISNA news agency he had decided on bail after the meeting he had with Mr. Panahi last Thursday. The prosecutor also stated that the judicial and office work on his case is now under way. For those of you not familiar with the story of Jafar Panahi, there is an archive of reports on his case in chronological order right here at DigitalJournal.com. A notable aside. I made a prediction two weeks ago to Boston Phoenix film critic Peter Keough (who interviewed Jafar last September and has been one of Mr. Panahi's most vigoroussupporters since his arrest) and many others that Mr. Panahi would be released within twelve to sixteen days from the start of the Cannes Film Festival, given all the publicity he would get at Cannes with the empty jury chair and loud calls for his release. Today is now Day Thirteen.