An Iranian actress has been sentenced to a year in prison and 90 lashes for her participation in an Australian-produced film that criticizes limits on the freedom of expression in Iran.
Marzieh Vafamehr, who starred in the 2009 film My Tehran for Sale, was taken to Gharchak prison in June after being arrested in connection with her appearance in the film, which is based in part on her real-life experiences. Vafamehr plays an actress whose theatre work has been banned by authorities, Australian publication Adelaide Now reported.
Vafamehr was reportedly released on bail in July.
Iranian opposition website Kalameh.com broke the news of the harsh sentence awaiting the actress despite a request from Vafamehr's family for a Western media blackout on the case.
A verdict has been issued for Marzieh Vafamehr, sentencing her to a year in jail and 90 lashes, Kalameh.com reported.
Fox News reports that Vafamehr's lawyer appealed the sentence. The specific charges are not entirely clear.
There is an appeal which could be lengthy and the family may still believe that public comment will be unhelpful because they are going through all the official channels, Kate Croser, co-producer of My Tehran for Sale, told Adelaide Now.
It is not clear precisely what charges led to Vafamehr's sentencing.
We can say the charges were that there was no permit for filming, which is not true, and that in some scenes Marzieh was not wearing a hijab and had a shaved head, Croser told Adelaide Now.
Vafamehr is married to Nasser Taghavi, a prominent Iranian film director and writer.
How can the judge investigate such a case when the most important people involved in this film are no longer in Iran? Taghavi told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
According to Adelaide Now, Vafamehr and Australian producers Croser and Julie Ryan filmed the movie in Tehran and brought the footage back to Adelaide for post production.
The film's release date is 2009, but has not been approved for screening in Iran. According to Adelaide Now, the film is highly controversial in Iran only because it showed footage of uninhibited modernised Iranians at Western-style rave parties.
Fox News reports that Fars News agency said the film was being distributed illegally throughout Iran.
Watch the trailer for My Tehran for Sale here:
And watch footage of a public lashing in Iran here: (WARNING – disturbing images)