Two prominent Iranian actresses have been arrested for publicly supporting anti-government protests. The news was confirmed by the country’s state-run media.

According to the IRNA news agency, two prominent actresses named Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi are accused of colluding and working against the Iranian authorities.

Both have previously appeared in public without headscarves to show solidarity with protesters.

The protests began after the death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody in September. Mahsa Amini (22) was arrested by the Iranian police from the capital Tehran for not wearing hijab properly. He died three days later on September 16.

There were reports that officers beat him with batons and hit him on the head with a car. But the police denied that he had been mistreated and said that he had suffered a heart attack.

Ghaziani and Riahi, both are multi-award winning actresses. They were detained on Sunday on the orders of Iran’s Prosecutor’s Office, IRNA reported.

Before his arrest, Ghaziani wrote on social media, ‘No matter what happens, know that as always I will stand by the people of Iran. This may be my last post.’

The actresses are among several high-profile figures in Iran who have expressed support for protesters against the country’s clerical establishment.

Earlier on Sunday, Ehsan Hajsafi, the captain of Iran’s national soccer team at the World Cup in Qatar, said, ‘We have to accept that the situation in our country is not right and our people are not happy.’

Separately, Hossein Sori, head of Iran’s boxing federation, announced he would not return home from a tournament in Spain due to the violent crackdown on protests in his country.

According to human rights activists, about 400 protesters were killed and about 16,800 were arrested in the operation by security forces.

Iranian leaders say the protests are ‘riots’ orchestrated by the country’s foreign enemies.

At least five protesters have been sentenced to death for their involvement in the protests.

(21 November)