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Director of Iranian 'Happy' Video Still Imprisoned

Tehran holds director hostage over viral video, refusing his freedom despite his family's willingness to post bail.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 5/25/2014, 10:33 AM

Jail (illustration)
Jail (illustration)
Thinkstock

Tehran came under fire last week for arresting participants in an Iranian version of Pharrell Williams’ "Happy" video, and a media storm eventually saw the release of several participants. 

But what Iran has not announced is that at least one director remains imprisoned over the viral video - and under horrifying conditions. 

An anonymous source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran Saturday that Sassan Soleimani, one of the video's directors, remains in Rajaee-Shahr Prison in Karaj - and is being deprived of sleep and other basic needs. 

While authorities had told Soleimani’s family that he could be released on bail, he remains imprisoned, with no word as to when or how he will be released, the source said. 

Last week, Iran's fundamentalist "morality police" arrested three men and three women for dancing in a video based on the hit song,holding them in a Tehran police station for two days.

After a media firestorm over the arrests, the six were eventually released on a bail of between 300 million and 500 million rials each (between about $10,000 and $16,600).

But the International Campaign reports Saturday that the six were not released on the basis of goodwill - or reputation; rather, sources say they were coerced into pinning the "crime" on Soleimani. 

Soleimani was arrested on May 20, according to the Campaign's website; agents ransacked his home and confiscated his computer and other belongings. 

Bail was set at 500 million rials ($16,600), but officials have refused to let him go - despite his family's readiness to pay for his freedom.