x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Actress, producer barred from leaving Iran

Iranian authorities prevented a well-known movie actress and a film maker from travelling to the US because of their activities after the June presidential poll.

Iranian authorities prevented a well-known movie actress and a film maker from travelling to the US because of their activities after a disputed election in June, according to a newspaper reported. Sarmayeh daily appeared to refer to involvement in huge opposition protests that erupted after the June 12 presidential poll, which defeated candidates say was rigged to secure the re-election of the hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

It said the actress Fatemeh Motamed-Aria and a documentary movie producer Mojtaba Mirtahmaseb were stopped at Tehran's airport on Thursday as they prepared to depart for a work-related visit to Los Angeles. Eight other people in the group were allowed to leave for a week-long conference on Iranian cinema, Sarmayeh said. "These two were stopped from leaving because of their activities in post-election events," the newspaper said, without giving a source.

It quoted Mr Mirtahmaseb as saying: "After completing the last stages of our passport inspection, airport agents showed a court order to me and Mrs Motamed-Aria and said that neither of us can leave Iran." He added that no reason was given. There was no immediate comment from the authorities. Rights groups say thousands of people, including leading reformers, journalists, lawyers and others, were detained after the election. Most have since been freed, but more than 100 people have been charged with fomenting the street unrest.

The authorities have denied opposition charges of vote rigging and portrayed the post-election protests as a foreign-backed bid to undermine the ruling clerical establishment in the Islamic Republic. The elite Revolutionary Guards and an Islamic militia largely quelled the mass protests after the vote. Opposition supporters have staged occasional, smaller rallies since then. *Reuters