Jailed Iranian actress is released

Story highlights

  • Actress Marzieh Vafamehr stars in the film "My Tehran for Sale"
  • An appeals court reportedly reduces her sentence
  • Rights groups accuse the Iranian government of targeting film workers
An Iranian actress who was sentenced to a year in jail and 90 lashes for appearing in a film critical of the country's government has been released, according to Amnesty International and the film's producers.
Actress Marzieh Vafamehr stared in the recently released "My Tehran for Sale." In the film, she appears in one scene without the head-covering Iranian women must wear, while in another she appears to drink alcohol, Amnesty International said.
Vafamehr was released Monday night after an appeals court cut her sentence to three months and overturned the 90 lashes, the rights group said.
Cyan Films, which produced "My Tehran for Sale," reported that the actress is now with her family.
"As filmmakers, we believe in freedom of speech and support all artists who are imprisoned and punished in Iran for expressing themselves through their art. We admire their courage and the contribution they make to sharing with the world their truth about life for Iranian people," said Kate Croser and Julie Ryan, producers of the film.
In August, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said it had interviewed the actress's husband, Iranian filmmaker Nasser Taghvai.
"It is a bitter tale why our artists should end up in prison for their profession; this is so painful. An actor cannot say I would do this in a film, or I wouldn't do that in a film. (If they did,) nobody would give them work anymore," the group's website quoted Taghvai as saying.
Rights groups have previously blasted Iran, slamming its record on the media and the arts. In particular, they say the government is cracking down on workers in the film industry.
"In recent months, an increasing number of filmmakers and actors have been targeted for persecution in Iran. While the release of Marzieh Vafamehr is a welcome development, it is deeply worrying that three filmmakers are still being held in Tehran's Evin Prison," said Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
According to the rights group, those filmmakers are Mehran Zinatbakhsh, Mojtaba Mir Tahmasb and Katayoun Shahabi.