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Daily Israel Report

Iran Releases Popular Dissident Pegah Ahangarani

Popular Iranian celebrity and dissident Pegah Ahangarani has been released after 17 days in custody.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 7/27/2011, 10:46 PM / Last Update: 7/28/2011, 1:10 AM

After seventeen days Iranian celebrity and dissident Pegah Ahangarani has been released from Iranian custody, German-language radio Deutche Welle reports.

Hamid Hekmat, Ahangarani's expatriate uncle, confirmed Wednesday his niece has been released on bail for $83,000. The charges against her remain unclear.

"Yesterday evening the family was told that they she could be brought home now. She is free at last," Hekmat said. But Ahangarani's uncle was unable able to give precise information about the condition of the actress, writer and film-maker.

It is also unknown whether the Iranian judiciary will pursue the case further. Ahangarani was denied legal representation during her detention.

The 27-year-old was supposed to blog for Deutsche Welle's Farsi service about the Women's World Cup in Germany. But on the night of July 12, one day before her departure from Tehran, she received a subpoena from the Information Ministry and was threatened with arrest.

Ahangarani didn't travel to Germany the next day and Deutche Welle said they officially cancelled her project with them in the hopes that doing so would help her avoid trouble with Iranian authorties. Despite this, she was arrested shortly afterwards.

Her arrest was ordered by highly placed security authorities whose identities remain unclear.

Ahangarani supported the opposition candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, during the disputed presidential election in Iran 2009. After the re-election of the incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian artist was summoned by the security authorities for interrogation.

The actress says she still doesn't know why she was arrested, but observers note that Iran's government frequently curtails the travel of high-profile Iranians who may speak against the regime on the world stage.

Ahangarani is not the only Iranian artist who has been arrested recently. Vafamehr Marzi, a 38-year-old actor, was also arrested for a role she played in a film critical of Iranian society.

According to Iranian prosecutors, both actors were arrested "following official investigations by the security authorities" and were released on bail following preliminary investigations.

"The media should not give the impression that two artists have been arrested. It is not about their profession, but about the individuals and their crimes," Iran's prosecutor general, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ezhei, said in a statement.

Ahangarani's arrest sparked furor among international politicians and human rights activists who decried the move as a 'tragedy.'