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The long travel ban against dissident Iranian director Jafar Panahi, in place for the past 14 years, has apparently been lifted.
Panahi’s wife Tahereh Saeedi, in a post on Instagram late Tuesday night, said the Iranian government has “canceled” the travel ban, first imposed in 2009. Accompanying the post was a posted of Saeedi and Panahi arriving at an unidentified airport.
“After 14 years, Jafar’s ban was canceled and finally we are going to travel together for a few days…” she wrote.
View this post on Instagram
The photo shows Panahi smiling, waving, and pushing a baggage cart piled high with three large suitcases. There is not information on where the photo was taken, though online speculation has pointed to signage in the background that suggests it could be at a French airport.
The award-winning director of Taxi, The White Ballon, The Circle, and No Bears is arguably the most prominent dissident director in Iran.
After he attended the funeral of a student shot dead during a protest, the Tehran regime slapped him with an international travel ban. In 2010, he was found guilty of producing “propaganda” against the Islamic Republic and given a six-year suspended prison sentence and a 20-year filmmaking ban. The director, however, has continued to make movies in secret, smuggling his work out to appear in international festivals. His latest, No Bears, screened in Venice last year, where it won the special jury prize.
Panahi was only recently released from Tehran’s notorious Evin jail after months-long imprisonment and following a hunger strike. He had been detained last July after he went to inquire about the arrest of fellow filmmakers Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad, who had been swept up amid a government crackdown on the artists and political activists.
Shortly after his arrest, the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody —she had been detained for allegedly violating Iran’s strict hijab laws — sparked nationwide demonstrations that attracted worldwide attention and triggered an even more violent backlash from the authorities.
Panahi protested his detainment, arguing the statute of limitations on his original sentence had expired and he should be released until his original case could be appealed. Iran’s Supreme Court agreed, but no action was taken. Jafar remained in jail until his hunger strike prompted authorities to take action and release him.
Panahi’s imprisonment had drawn the attention of international film festivals and activists, as it shone a light on the repression of the national cinema industry and continuing demonstrations around women’s rights in Iran.
The Hollywood Reporter is trying to get independent confirmation of the lifting of Panahi’s travel ban.
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