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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq A-Awsat

Oscar-winning Iranian Filmmaker Backs Alidoosti

Cast member Taraneh Alidoosti poses on the red carpet ahead of the screening for the film "Forushande" (The Salesman) in competition at the 69th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi on Tuesday urged the release of Taraneh Alidoosti, who has starred in four of his films, after the actor's arrest for supporting the three-month protest movement.

Alidoosti, 38, was arrested on Saturday, official media said, after making a string of social media posts supporting the protests sparked by Mahsa Amini's death -- including removing her headscarf and condemning the execution of activists.

Farhadi, who notably directed Alidoosti in his Oscar-winning film "The Salesman", said he stood by the celebrated actor who he said was in jail merely because of her "rightful support" of fellow Iranians.

Alidoosti is one of the most prominent figures yet arrested in the Iranian authorities' crackdown that has seen the detention of lawyers, cultural figures, journalists and campaigners.

"She is in prison for her rightful support of her fellow countrymen and her opposition to the unjust sentences being issued," director Farhadi said on Instagram.

"If showing such support is a crime, then tens of millions of people of this land are criminals."

Iran has been shaken by protests since Amini's September 16 death in custody after her arrest by the morality police for allegedly violating Iran's strict dress rules for women.

At least 14,000 people have been arrested since the nationwide unrest began, the United Nations said last month.

The United States on Tuesday condemned Alidoosti's arrest as "part of the regime's effort to sow fear and suppress these peaceful protests." 

"We call on Iranian authorities to cease the arbitrary detentions and to stop denying the Iranian people their fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression and the freedom of peaceful assembly," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in Washington.

"We'll be watching how the regime treats Ms. Alidoosti and all those it has detained arbitrarily," he said.

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