Iran releases celebrity chef arrested in crackdown

Human rights groups says Navab Ebrahimi, known for his videos promoting Persian cooking, has been freed; no reason was given for his detention

Iranian chef Navab Ebrahimi films a cooking video in December, 2022. (Screen capture/YouTube)
Iranian chef Navab Ebrahimi films a cooking video in December, 2022. (Screen capture/YouTube)

PARIS — Iran has released a prominent chef and Instagram influencer who was detained earlier this month in its crackdown on nationwide protests, human rights groups and supporters said.

Navab Ebrahimi, known for his videos promoting Persian cooking, was arrested in Tehran on January 4 and taken to the city’s Evin prison.

Nik Yousefi, an Iranian filmmaker and photographer who was himself arrested in October as part of the crackdown and then freed, wrote on Twitter that Ebrahimi had been released on bail on Wednesday.

He posted a picture of Ebrahimi smiling with his partner.

The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) also said Ebrahimi had been released on bail, adding there was still no word on the charges leveled against him.

Iran has arrested at least 14,000 people in the wave of protests sparked by the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman who had been arrested for allegedly breaching the strict dress code for women, according to the UN.

Prominent journalists, filmmakers, lawyers and activists have been arrested. Some have been released on bail, including star actor Taraneh Alidoosti, but others remain in prison.

No reason has been given for the arrest of Ebrahimi, who had some 2.7 million followers on Instagram enjoying his slickly produced videos showing how to produce classic Persian dishes without pain.

But social media users said the arrest coincided with him posting a recipe to make Persian cutlets on the day the Iranian authorities marked the third anniversary of the killing by the United States of Revolutionary Guards General Qassem Soleimani.

Some Iranians opposed to the regime have made a habit of posting images of cutlets on the anniversary of his death, in reference to the manner of his killing in a US drone strike in Iraq.

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