“No Bears” director Jafar Panahi has successfully been released from prison after being detained since July 2022.
Panahi, who recently announced a hunger strike in protest of his incarceration, was detained after inquiring about the arrests of filmmakers Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad following this social media protest against how the Iranian government responded to a building collapse that killed 40 people.
As previously reported, Panahi’s inquiry reactivated a six-year sentence from 2010 along with a 20-year-long filmmaking and travel ban after Panahi attended a 2009 funeral for a student killed in the Green movement, where Iranian citizens demanded the removal of then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Panahi has remained in incarceration since his inquiries in July 2022.
IndieWire can confirm that Panahi’s wife Tahereh Saeidi announced in a phone call to Mansour Jahani, an independent and international cinema reporter, that with the efforts of her lawyers Saleh Nikbakht and Yusef Moulai, Panahi was released from Tehran’s Evin prison.
“Although I am happy about Mr. Panahi’s release, it must be said that his release should have taken place three months ago, following the acceptance of our objection to his previous court decision,” Iranian attorney Saleh Nikbakht said. “I am surprised by these ‘sledgehammer encounters’ with Mr. Panahi and other artists, writers, intellectuals and journalists and generally protestors of the status quo as they even neglect to implement the decision of the highest judicial authority.”
Nikbakht continued, “The decision of the Supreme Court was issued following our objection to Mr. Panahi’s previous sentence on October 18, 2022, and Mr. Panahi should have been released on bail immediately.”
In January 2023, Panahi’s wife Saeidi shared on Instagram, “Last week we were informed that Jafar will be out in a week. We are happy again. A week passed by and Jafar is still not with us. It’s been exactly 200 days now. We are desperate… The liberation of Jafar is in total accordance of their own laws but they are above the law, without any respect for the law.”
While Panahi remained in prison despite the announcement that he would be released, the “Three Faces” director shared a statement about his imprisonment: “It is only an excuse for repression. Even though I knew that the judicial system and the security institutions have no will to implement the law (which they insist on), but out of respect for my lawyers and friends, I went through all the legal ways to get my right; Today, like many people trapped in Iran, I have no choice but to protest against these inhumane behaviors with my dearest possession, that is, my life.”