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Sunday, 2 September, 2001, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
Jailed Iranian film director freed
One of Iran's leading film directors, Tahmineh Milani
Mrs Milani's arrest was part of an ongoing crackdown
By Jim Muir in Tehran

One of Iran's leading film directors, Tahmineh Milani, who was arrested on the orders of a revolutionary court in Tehran a week ago, has been released.

The release of Mrs Milani, whose work has been internationally acclaimed, followed a chorus of protest, including criticism from the reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

Mrs Milani's sudden arrest a week ago was a considerable embarrassment to President Khatami's reformist government, highlighting the gulf between it and the judiciary, which is largely controlled by hard line conservatives.

Her latest film, The Hidden Hearth, has been publicly screened in Tehran for the past month.

Film approved

Like all domestically produced Iranian films, it had been through a rigorous censorship process.

And it had been approved by the Ministry of Culture.

Iranian President Khatami
President Khatami: Unfair arrest
For the director then to be arrested for the content of the film seemed, as President Khatami himself put it at a news conference on Saturday, unfair to say the least.

The Ministry of Culture made strenuous efforts on Mrs Milani's behalf.

It was on the ministry's guarantee, in a sum equivalent to $25,000, that the revolutionary court finally revoked the detention order and released her on bail.

A court statement said the reasons for Mrs Milani's arrest had been dealt with.

Judiciary cracking down

It had earlier accused the director of supporting counter-revolutionary groups and of abusing art for deviationist political purposes.

The film is set in the period just before and after the 1979 revolution, which was supported by left-wing groups that were themselves later suppressed by the Islamic factions.

Mrs Milani's arrest was the latest move in a continuing crackdown by the judiciary.

In addition to prosecuting and jailing numerous liberal figures, it has also launched a series of public floggings and hangings, which have shocked many Iranians and have become the latest point of dispute between reformists and hard liners.

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The BBC's Jim Muir reports from Teheran
"She is the latest in a long series of liberal figures to be arrested"
See also:

29 Aug 01 | Middle East
Iranian film director 'arrested'
29 Jul 01 | Middle East
New floggings in Iran
16 Jul 01 | Middle East
Iran reformist jailed for six years
12 Jul 01 | Middle East
Iranian adulteress stoned to death
20 Dec 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Iran
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