Two prominent Iranian actresses have been arrested on charges of “conspiracy and collusion” amid sweeping protests that have rocked the country in recent months.
Katayoun Riahi and Hengameh Ghaziani were both arrested on Sunday, a day after being summoned by judicial authorities in a probe over their social media posts.
According to reports in state media, quoting judicial officials, many cinema and sports figures were summoned on Saturday over their comments related to recent events in the country.
The summons was related to what officials said were their “provocative” statements on social media and other media platforms in support of street riots” sought their clarifications.
On Sunday evening, Riahi and Ghaziani were arrested upon the prosecutor’s order on charges of “conspiracy and collusion to act against the country’s security”, state media said.
Riahi, an award-winning actress best known for her role in the series Prophet Joseph (2009), was reportedly arrested from one of her houses near the central province of Qazvin.
The charges against the 60-year-old television and cinema actress include “publishing false information” aimed at “disturbing the minds” of people.
She had recently appeared on the UK-based Persian language news channel, Iran International, without the headscarf, criticizing police crackdown against protesters in Iran.
Hours before Riahi, Ghaziani was arrested on similar charges on the prosecutor’s order, reports said.
The 52-year-old actress has won several awards for her cinematic work, including two Crystal Simorgh, a Hafez Award, and an Iran Cinema Celebration Award.
She had earlier informed in a cryptic Instagram post of receiving the summons and also published a video without the headscarf.
“Maybe this will be my last post,” she wrote late Saturday.
“From this moment on, whatever happens to me, know that as always, I am with the Iranian people until my last breath.”
According to the Mizan news website, affiliated with the country’s judiciary, Ghaziani was one of eight people who were served summons over “provocative” social media posts.
Others included former footballer and coach Yahya Golmohammadi, who had recently criticized the national football players for not supporting the ongoing protests.
The widespread protests, triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s morality police in mid-September, have taken a violent turn in recent weeks.
A string of attacks by armed protesters on security personnel has been reported across the country, with more than a dozen killings of policemen and paramilitary Basiji forces.
Iranian authorities have called them “riots”, blaming the Western countries, in particular the US, for stoking unrest in the country.
So far, six people have been sentenced to death in preliminary verdicts by a court in Tehran while many others have been given jail terms ranging from 5 to 10 years.