Iranian actress receives 18-month jail sentence

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(AFP) / 29 October 2013

Pegah Ahangarani sentenced for her social activities, political comments and interviews with foreign media. 

An Iranian court has sentenced filmmaker and actress Pegah Ahangarani to 18 months in prison, her mother told ISNA news agency on Monday, apparently for her social activities, political comments and interviews with foreign media.

“She has been sentenced to 18 months in the trial court,” Manijeh Hekmat, who is also a director, told ISNA without giving further details.

Ahangarani, 29, was arrested in her flat in July 2011 and was released on bail later that month. Currently, she is not in detention, as an appeals court must confirm the sentence before it is applied under the Iranian system.

Judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie meanwhile told ISNA Ahangarani was free and “had not been arrested”.

But Hekmat said that her daughter has been prevented from leaving Iran for nearly three years.

“We hope with the new climate in the country (following the election of moderate President Hasan Rohani in June) leads to the reduction of her restrictions and her sentence would be reviewed,” Hekmat said in a letter to the official news agency, IRNA.

According to IRNA the sentence was issued because of her social activities, political comments she made and interviews with she gave to certain foreign media.

Hekmat also said they would appeal the sentence.

Even before her arrest, the authorities had barred Ahangarani from leaving the country. She had been due to travel to Germany in 2011 to write her impressions of the Women’s World Cup in an Internet blog for German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

Ahangarani won the award for a supporting role at the Iranian Fajr Festival in February 2013 for the movie “Dar Band” (Trapped).

The film featured at the Chicago Film Festival this month but Ahangarani could not attend the ceremony due to her travel ban, Hekmat said.

The actress backed Rohani during his electoral campaign earlier this year and supported opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi’s unsuccessful candidacy in Iran’s disputed 2009 elections.

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