A gunman stormed the Azerbaijan Embassy in Iran's capital Friday, killing its security chief and wounding two guards in an attack that spiked long-simmering tensions between the two neighboring countries. Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said it would evacuate the diplomatic post, accusing Iran of not taking reported threats against it seriously in the past that include inciting comments in hard-line media over Azerbaijan's diplomatic ties to Israel. Tehran’s police chief, Gen. Hossein Rahimi, initially blamed the attack on “personal and family problems,” something quickly repeated across Iranian state media. But within hours Rahimi would lose his position as police chief after footage emerged that appeared to show a security force member doing nothing to stop the attack. “Previously, there have been attempts to threaten our diplomatic mission in Iran, and it was constantly raised before Iran to take measures to prevent such cases, and to ensure the safety of our diplomatic missions,” the Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry said. “Unfortunately, the last bloody terror attack demonstrates the serious consequences of not showing proper sensitivity to our urgent appeals in this direction.” “We are of the opinion that the recent anti-Azerbaijani campaign against our country in Iran led to such attack against our diplomatic mission," the ministry added. Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev called the assault a “terrorist attack.” He identified the dead security chief as 1st Lt. Orkhan Rizvan Oglu Askarov. “We demand that this terrorist act be swiftly investigated and the terrorists punished,” Aliyev said in a statement. "Terror against diplomatic missions is unacceptable!” The attack happened Friday morning, the second day of the Iranian weekend. Surveillance video released in Azerbaijan purportedly showed the gunman arriving by car at the embassy, running into the back of another car parked out front. He exited his car, holding what appeared to be a Kalashnikov-style rifle. From there, details immediately conflict with the Iranian account of the attack. Iranian state TV had quoted Rahimi as saying the gunman had entered the embassy with his two children during the attack. However, surveillance footage from inside the embassy, which matched details of the aftermath and bore a timestamp matching the Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry’s statement, showed the gunman burst through the embassy’s doors alone. Read more: Iran execution: Man publicly hanged from crane amid protests Those inside tried to push through metal detectors to take cover. The man opens fire with the rifle, its muzzle flashing, as he chases after the men into the small side office. Another man bursts from a side door and fights the gunman for the rifle as the footage ends. Another surveillance video from outside the embassy, which also corresponded to the same details, showed the gunman slam his car into another in front of the embassy. The gunman then got out and leveled his rifle at a figure inside of the Iranian police stand, likely a security force member, who stood still and did nothing as the man stormed the embassy. Video of the aftermath showed an empty diplomatic police post just near the embassy, with one man apparently wounded in an SUV parked outside. Inside the embassy past a metal detector, paramedics stood over what appeared to be a lifeless body in a small office as blood pooled on the floor beneath. Associated Press journalists later saw the embassy’s front door pocked with bullet holes after the attack. Iranian prosecutor Mohammad Shahriari reportedly said the gunman's wife had disappeared in April after a visit to the embassy. The Iranian judiciary's Mizan news agency quoted Shahriari as saying the gunman believed his wife was still in the diplomatic post at the time of the attack — even though it was some eight months later. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani also said his country strongly condemned the attack, which was under investigation with “high priority and sensitivity.” Azerbaijan also summoned Iran's ambassador there to lodge a protest over the attack as authorities replaced Rahimi, Tehran's police chief, without offering an explanation. Azerbaijan borders Iran's northwest and belonged to the Persian Empire until the early 19th century. Ethnic Azeris also number over 12 million people in Iran and represent the Islamic Republic's largest minority group — making maintaining good relations even more important for Tehran. There have been tensions between the two countries as Azerbaijan and Armenia have fought over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Iran also wants to maintain its 44-kilometer (27-mile) border with landlocked Armenia — something that could be threatened if Azerbaijan seizes new territory through warfare. Iran in October launched a military exercise near the Azerbaijan border, flexing its martial might amid the nationwide protests rocking the Islamic Republic. Azerbaijan also maintains close ties to Israel, which Tehran views as its top regional enemy. The Islamic Republic and Israel are locked in an ongoing shadow war as Iran's nuclear program rapidly enriches uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels. Israel also offered its condolences to Azerbaijan over the attack. Turkey, which has close ties to Azerbaijan, condemned the attack, called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice and for measures to be put in place to prevent similar attacks in the future. Turkey has backed Azerbaijan against Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. “Turkey, which has been subjected to similar attacks in the past, deeply shares the pain of the Azerbaijani people,” a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said. “Brotherly Azerbaijan is not alone. Our support to Azerbaijan will continue without interruption, as it always has.”
Iran on Wednesday announced sanctions targeting more than 30 European individuals and entities, portraying the move as a response to recent European sanctions against officials linked to a crackdown on nationwide protests. Those targeted with sanctions include Britain's attorney general and army chief of staff, several European parliamentarians and European military officials. Also targeted are the French intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy and three senior staffers at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which recently published a series of cartoons lampooning Iran's clerical rulers. The sanctions would bar travel to Iran and allow authorities to block bank accounts and confiscate property in Iran. Those targeted are unlikely to have either, rendering the move largely symbolic. The move came two days after the European Union widened its sanctions to target dozens of Iranian officials and organizations linked to the violent suppression of recent protests. It stopped short of branding Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group despite an appeal from the European Parliament. Iran has long been under heavy U.S. and European sanctions linked to its disputed nuclear program and support for regional militant groups. The nuclear sanctions were lifted under a landmark 2015 agreement with world powers, but President Donald Trump restored them after unilaterally withdrawing the U.S. from the deal. Read more: US imposes more sanctions on Iran over Mahsa Amini's death Iranians have taken to the streets since September over the death of a 22-year-old woman who was arrested by the morality police for allegedly violating Iran's strict Islamic dress code. The demonstrations have called for the overthrow of Iran's theocracy and pose one of the biggest challenges to the ruling clerics since the 1979 revolution that brought them to power. Rights groups say security forces have used live ammunition, bird shot and beatings to disperse protests. At least 527 protesters have been killed and over 19,500 people have been arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has closely monitored the unrest. Iranian authorities have not provided an official count of those killed or detained, and have blamed the protests and violence on foreign powers without providing evidence. The demonstrators say they are fed up after decades of social and political repression by a clerical leadership they view as corrupt and incompetent.
Iran said Saturday it had executed a dual Iranian-British national who once worked for its defense ministry, despite an international outcry over his death sentence and those of others held amid nationwide protests. Iran’s Mizan news agency, associated with the country’s judiciary, announced Ali Reza Akbari’s hanging. It did not say when it happened. However, there were rumors he had been executed days ago. Iran had accused Akbari, without offering evidence, of being a spy for Britain’s MI-6 intelligence agency. It aired a highly edited video of Akbari discussing the allegations resembling others that activists have described as coerced confessions. On Friday, State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel criticized Akbari’s pending execution. “The charges against Ali Reza Akbari and his sentencing to execution were politically motivated. His execution would be unconscionable," he said. “We are greatly disturbed by the reports that Mr. Akbari was drugged, tortured while in custody, interrogated for thousands of hours, and forced to make false confessions.” Read more: Iran executes 2 more men detained amid nationwide protests He added: “More broadly, Iran’s practices of arbitrary and unjust detentions, forced confessions, and politically motivated executions are completely unacceptable and must end.” Britain’s Foreign Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly had earlier called on Iran to stop the execution. “The Iranian regime should be in no doubt,” he wrote Friday online. “We are watching the case of Ali Reza Akbari closely.” Iran’s government for months has been trying to allege — without offering evidence — that foreign countries have fomented the unrest gripping the Islamic Republic since the death of a woman in September detained by the morality police. Protesters say they are angry over the collapse of the economy, heavy-handed policing and the entrenched power of the country’s Islamic clergy. Iran is one of the world’s top executioners. For several years, Iran has been locked in a shadow war with the United States and Israel, marked by covert attacks on its disputed nuclear program. The killing of Iran’s top nuclear scientist in 2020, which Iran blamed on Israel, indicated foreign intelligence services had made major inroads. Akbari, who ran a private think tank, has not been seen in public since 2019, when he was apparently arrested. He also was close to Ali Shamkhani, a top security official in Iran, leading analysts to suggest his death sentence was tied to a possible power struggle within the country’s security apparatus amid the protests. Akbari had previously led the implementation of a 1988 cease-fire between Iran and Iraq following their devastating eight-year war, working closely with U.N. observers. Authorities have not released any details about his trial. Those accused of espionage and other crimes related to national security are usually tried behind closed doors, where rights groups say they do not choose their own lawyers and are not allowed to see evidence against them. Read more: Iran execution: Man publicly hanged from crane amid protests The anti-government protests, which have continued for nearly four months with no sign of ending, are one of the biggest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution that brought it to power. At least 520 protesters have been killed and more than 19,300 people have been arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has been monitoring the unrest. Iranian authorities have not provided official figures on deaths or arrests. Iran has executed four people after convicting them of charges linked to the protests in similarly criticized trials, including attacks on security forces.
Iran has sentenced a Belgian aid worker to a lengthy prison term and 74 lashes after convicting him of espionage in a closed-door trial, state media reported Tuesday. The website of Iran’s judiciary said a Revolutionary Court sentenced 41-year-old Olivier Vandecasteele to 12.5 years in prison for espionage, 12.5 years for collaboration with hostile governments and 12.5 years for money laundering. He was also fined $1 million and sentenced to 2.5 years for currency smuggling. Under Iranian law, Vandecasteele would be eligible for release after 12.5 years. The judiciary website said the verdicts can be appealed. Iran has detained a number of foreigners and dual nationals over the years, accusing them of espionage or other state security offenses and sentencing them after secretive trials in which rights groups say they are denied due process. Critics accuse Iran of using such prisoners as bargaining chips with the West, something Iranian officials deny. Vandecasteele's conviction comes after an Iranian diplomat in Belgium received a 20-year prison sentence in 2021 over masterminding a thwarted bomb attack against an exiled Iranian opposition group in France. Iran has not released any details about the charges against Vandecasteele. It is unclear if they are related to anti-government protests that have convulsed Iran for months or a long-running shadow war with Israel and the U.S. marked by covert attacks on Iran's disputed nuclear program. The nationwide protests began after the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was detained for allegedly violating Iran's strict Islamic dress code. Rallying under the slogan “Women, life, freedom,” the protesters say they are fed up with decades of social and political repression. Iran has blamed the protests on foreign powers, without providing evidence. Vandecasteele's family said last month that he has been detained in an Iranian prison for months and has been on a hunger strike. They said he was deprived of access to a lawyer of his choice and is suffering from serious health problems. Belgium has urged its nationals to leave Iran, warning that they face the risk of arbitrary arrest or unfair trial. “Iran has provided no official information regarding the charges against Olivier Vandecasteele or his trial,” Belgium's Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib said in a statement. “We will summon the Iranian ambassador today, given the information that is circulating in the press.” “Belgium continues to condemn this arbitrary detention and is doing everything possible to put an end to it and to improve the conditions of his detention,” she said. The anti-government protests, which have continued for nearly four months with no sign of ending, are one of the biggest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution that brought it to power. At least 520 protesters have been killed and more than 19,300 people have been arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has been monitoring the unrest. Iranian authorities have not provided official figures on deaths or arrests. Iran has executed four people after convicting them of charges linked to the protests, including attacks on security forces. They were convicted in Revolutionary Courts, which do not allow those on trial to pick their own lawyers or see the evidence against them. London-based Amnesty International has said such trials bear “no resemblance to a meaningful judicial proceeding." Norway and Denmark summoned Iranian ambassadors this week to protest the executions and Iran's handling of the demonstrations. "What is happening in Iran is completely unacceptable and must stop," Norway’s Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said. “We have strongly condemned the executions. ... We have called on Iran to end the use of the death penalty and to respect human rights.” In Denmark, Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen called the executions “completely unacceptable" and said the European Union should impose additional sanctions on Iran. Separately on Tuesday, the state-run IRNA news agency said Iran’s intelligence ministry arrested six teams of operatives linked to Mossad, Israel's chief intelligence and secret-service agency. Without providing evidence, the report said the spy teams planned to assassinate an unnamed high-ranking military official and had carried out several sabotage operations in the country’s big cities. The report also said security forces identified 23 alleged members of these teams and had arrested 13 of them who were in the country.
The U.S. Navy seized over 2,100 assault rifles from a ship in the Gulf of Oman it believes came from Iran and were bound for Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, a Navy spokesman said Tuesday. It was the latest capture of weapons allegedly heading to the Arab world’s poorest country. The seizure last Friday happened after a team from the USS Chinook, a Cyclone-class coastal patrol boat, boarded a traditional wooden sailing vessel known as a dhow. They discovered the Kalashnikov-style rifles individually wrapped in green tarps aboard the ship, said Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for the Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet. Experts examining photos released by the Navy later said the weapons appeared to be Chinese-made T-56 rifles and Russian-made Molot AKS20Us. Type 56 rifles have been found in previously seized weapons caches. Similar green tarping also has been used. The Chinook, along with the patrol boat USS Monsoon and the guided missile destroyer USS The Sullivans, took possession of the weapons. They resembled other assault rifles previously seized by the Navy, suspected to be from Iran and heading to Yemen. “When we intercepted the vessel, it was on a route historically used to traffic illicit cargo to the Houthis in Yemen,” Hawkins told The Associated Press. “The Yemeni crew corroborated the origin.” The Yemeni crew, Hawkins added, will be repatriated back to a government-controlled part of Yemen. Read more: Iran deal tantalizingly close, but US faces new hurdles A United Nations arms embargo has prohibited weapons transfers to the Houthis since 2014, when Yemen’s civil war erupted. Iran has long denied arming the Houthis even as it has been transferring rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, missiles and other weaponry to the Yemeni militia using sea routes. Independent experts, Western nations and U.N. experts have traced components seized aboard other detained vessels back to Iran. Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. The Houthis seized Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, in September 2014 and forced the internationally recognized government into exile. A Saudi-led coalition armed with U.S. weaponry and intelligence entered the war on the side of Yemen’s exiled government in March 2015. Years of inconclusive fighting has pushed the Arab world’s poorest nation to the brink of famine. A six-month cease-fire in Yemen’s war, the longest of the conflict, expired in October despite diplomatic efforts to renew it. That’s led to fears the fighting could again escalate. More than 150,000 people have been killed in Yemen during the conflict, including over 14,500 civilians. There have been sporadic attacks since the cease-fire expired, though international negotiators are trying to find a political solution to the war. Read more: US adds new sanctions and reward to further pressure Iran In November, the Navy found 70 tons of a missile fuel component hidden among bags of fertilizer, also allegedly from Iran and bound to Yemen.
Iranian hardliners on Sunday burned French flags outside the French embassy in Tehran, protesting cartoons published by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that lampoon Iran’s ruling clerics. The caricatures were published at a time of persistent anti-government protests in Iran, now in their fourth month. Demonstrators are calling for the downfall of its Islamic Republic and are challenging its hardline establishment. The demonstrations outside of the French embassy follow previous attempts by Iran’s rulers to mobilize their supporters in counter-demonstrations. Hundreds of protesters, including students from seminary schools, shouted “Death to France” and accused French President Emmanuel Macron of insulting Iran while urging Paris to stop “animosity” toward Tehran. Police officers, some of whom appeared to be holding images of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, kept the demonstrators at a distance from the embassy building. Read more: Iran executes 2 more men detained amid nationwide protests State television said some clerics held similar protests in the shrine city of Qom, the center of religious learning in Iran. Iranian parliamentary speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf on Sunday linked the French magazine’s cartoons with what officials have repeatedly alleged is the West’s plot to spread purported riots in Iran. Later in the day, President Ebrahim Raisi offered his first reaction to the French cartoons and echoed similar claims. “Resorting to insults on the pretext of freedom is a clear indication of their frustration in concluding plot for chaos and insecurity” in Iran, he said. Charlie Hebdo has a long history of publishing vulgar cartoons mocking Islamists, which critics say are deeply insulting to Muslims. Two French-born al-Qaida extremists attacked the newspaper’s office in 2015, killing 12 cartoonists, and it has been the target of other attacks over the years. Its latest issue features the winners of a recent cartoon contest in which entrants were asked to draw the most offensive caricatures of Supreme Leader Khamenei. One of the finalists depicts a turbaned cleric reaching for a hangman’s noose as he drowns in blood, while another shows Khamenei clinging to a giant throne above the raised fists of protesters. Others depict more vulgar and sexually explicit scenes. Read more: Iran authorities arrest actress of Oscar-winning movie Anti-government protests erupted across Iran in September after the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who had been detained by the country’s morality police for allegedly violating its strict Islamic dress code. The unrest has grown into one of the severest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution that brought it to power. Human rights groups say that at least 517 protesters have been killed and over 19,200 people have been arrested amid a violent crackdown by security forces. Iranian authorities have not provided an official count of those killed or detained. On Saturday, authorities executed two men convicted of allegedly killing a paramilitary volunteer in the demonstrations. The Saturday hangings brought to four the number of people known to have been executed since the unrest began in September over the death of Amini. All of the sentences were handed out in rapid, closed-door trials that have been met with international criticism. Sunday was also the third anniversary of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s downing of an Ukrainian passenger plane with two surface-to-air missiles, killing all 176 people on board — a tragedy that ignited an outburst of anger across Iran. Tehran initially denied responsibility for downing the plane before admitting to having mistakenly done so amid high tensions with the U.S. An Iranian court has yet to issue a verdict three years into the trial of 10 military personnel who have not been publicly identified but are allegedly implicated in the plane’s downing. Families of the victims met on Sunday at the site of the crash to hold a memorial ceremony separately from an official commemoration organized at Tehran’s international airport, which had been the point of departure for the flight. In a separate development on Sunday, a court sentenced Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, to a five-year prison term for “propaganda against the system,” Iranian media reported. The outspoken and pro-reform Hashemi has been in prison since late September after she was arrested by security forces for supporting protests that have been led by women opposing the mandatory headscarf or hijab under the Islamic Republic. In 2011, Hashemi was convicted and served five years in prison over similar security charges. Iranian officials have continued to claim the months-long protests are being driven by foreign agents but have offered no proof. Following Charlie Hebdo’s publishing of cartoons mocking Iranian clerical figures, authorities in Tehran shut down on Thursday a decades-old French research institute and called the closure a “first step” in their response.
Iran said it executed two men Saturday convicted of allegedly killing a paramilitary volunteer during a demonstration, the latest executions aimed at halting the nationwide protests now challenging the country's theocracy. Iran’s judiciary identified those executed as Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Mohammad Hosseini, making it four men known to have been executed since the demonstrations began in September over the death of Mahsa Amini. All have faced internationally criticized, rapid, closed-door trials. The judiciary's Mizan news agency said the men had been convicted of killing Ruhollah Ajamian, a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's volunteer Basij Force, in the city of Karaj outside of Tehran on Nov. 3. The Basij have deployed in major cities, attacking and detaining protesters, who in many cases have fought back. Heavily edited footage aired on state television showed Karami speaking before a Revolutionary Court about the attack, which also showed a reenactment of the attack according to prosecutors' claims. Iran's Revolutionary Courts handed down the two other death sentences already carried out. Read more: Iran executes first known prisoner arrested in protests The tribunals don’t allow those on trial to pick their own lawyers or even see the evidence against them. Amnesty International has said the trials “bore no resemblance to a meaningful judicial proceeding.” State TV also aired footage of Karami and Hosseini talking about the attack, though the broadcaster for years has aired what activists describe as coerced confessions. The men were convicted of the killing, as well as “corruption on Earth,” a Quranic term and charge that has been levied against others in the decades since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and carries the death penalty. Activists say at least 16 people have been sentenced to death in closed-door hearings over charges linked to the protests. Death sentences in Iran are typically carried out by hanging. At least 517 protesters have been killed and over 19,200 people have been arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has closely monitored the unrest. Iranian authorities have not provided an official count of those killed or detained. Read more: Iran execution: Man publicly hanged from crane amid protests The protests began in mid-September, when 22-year-old Amini died after being arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. Women have played a leading role in the protests, with many publicly stripping off the compulsory Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab. The protests mark one of the biggest challenges to Iran's theocracy since the 1979 revolution. Security forces have used live ammunition, bird shot, tear gas and batons to disperse protesters, according to rights groups.
Iran’s military tested new attack drones in the coastal area of the Gulf of Oman and near the strategic Strait of Hormuz Saturday as part of its ongoing annual drill, state TV reported. Meanwhile, antigovernment protests underway for over three months continued. Videos on social media showed protests in Tehran’s grand bazaar and several cities and towns including in the Kurdish area. Part of Tehran’s bazaar closed in the wake of the protests which authorities cracked down on. State TV said the Ababil-5 attack drone was used during wargames for the first time and successfully hit its target with a bomb after traveling 400 kilometers (250 miles). Iran has tested many other military drones over the past decade. The military drones have been a point of contention between Iran and the United States and its allies, which claim Tehran is supplying Moscow with drones that have been used in attacks in West-backed Ukraine. In November, Iran acknowledged it has supplied Russia with drones, adding that the supply came before Moscow’s war in Ukraine. Iran says it is committed to stopping the conflict. Read more: White House: Iran set to deliver armed drones to Russia The Strait of Hormuz is located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf and is crucial to global energy supplies, with about a fifth of all oil traded at sea passing through it. Commandos and airborne infantry participated in the wargames, dubbed “Zolfaghar-1401,” along with fighter jets, helicopters, military transport aircraft and submarines. Iran’s military will fire missiles and air defense systems as well. Iran regularly holds such drills to improve its defensive power and test weapons. Since mid-September, Iran has been shaken by antigovernment protests which were ignited by the death of a woman who was detained by the country’s morality police. The demonstrations rapidly escalated into calls for an end to more than four decades of the country’s clerical rule. Read more: Iranian troops in Crimea supporting Russian drone attacks, says US More than 500 protesters have been killed and over 18,500 people have been arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has closely monitored the unrest. Iranian authorities have not released figures for those killed or arrested.
The 2nd Foreign Office Consultations between Bangladesh and the Islamic Republic of Iran was held in Dhaka on Thursday. Foreign Secretary (Senior Secretary) Ambassador Masud Bin Momen and First Deputy Minister (Political Affairs) of Iran Ali Bagheri Kani led their respective delegations to the Consultations. The Consultations reviewed the status of the bilateral relations between the two fraternal countries and discussed ways to enhance further cooperation and partnership in the field of commerce and trade, investment in the economic zones, human resource development, people-to-people ties, food security, energy, connectivity, Blue Economy, climate change cooperation and so forth. The two sides underscored the importance of the exchange of high-level visits and timely implementation of the agreements signed between the two countries. The Bangladesh side requested a deeper engagement of Iran to facilitate sustainable return of the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals to their country of origin. They exchanged views on global issues and issues of regional cooperation as well. Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation and partnership bilaterally and in various regional and multinational forums on matters of core concern. A roadmap for future cooperation agenda was also agreed on, including the convening of the next Joint Commission meeting in Tehran. Read more: Argentine foreign minister likely to visit Bangladesh next March: Momen
Iranian authorities arrested one of the country’s most famous actresses on charges of spreading falsehoods about nationwide protests that grip the country, state media said Saturday. The report by IRNA said Taraneh Alidoosti, star of the Oscar-winning movie “The Salesman,” was detained a week after she made a post on Instagram expressing solidarity with the first man recently executed for crimes committed during the nationwide protests. According to the report published on the state media’s official Telegram channel, Alidoosti was arrested because she did not provide ’’any documents in line with her claims.″ ''His name was Mohsen Shekari.'' she said in her post. ‘‘Every international organization who is watching this bloodshed and not taking action, is a disgrace to humanity." Shekari was executed Dec. 9 after being charged by an Iranian court with blocking a street in Tehran and attacking a member of the country's security forces with a machete. Read more: Iran execution: Man publicly hanged from crane amid protests Iran has been rocked by protests since the Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died after being detained by the morality police. The protests have since morphred into one of the most serious challenges to Iran’s theocracy installed by the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi, two other famous actresses in Iran, were arrested by authorities for expressing solidarity with protesters on social media. Both have been released. At least 495 people have been killed in the demonstrations amid a harsh security crackdown, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has been monitoring the protests since they began. Over 18,200 people have been detained by authorities.