On 5 November 2016, Iranian singer Amir Tataloo (real name: Amirhossein Maghsoodloo) was sentenced to five years in prison and 74 lashes after being found guilty of “spreading Western immorality”, reported Al Bawaba on 6 November 2016.
The singer’s original sentence was for ten years and 74 lashes, but the time term was reduced in half after some of the charges against him were dropped.
“Freemuse calls Iranian authorities to drop the charges against Amir Tataloo,” Ole Reitov, Freemuse Executive Director, said. “We continue to be worried by the increased targeting of artists in Iran who are being persecuted, threatened and imprisoned for nothing more than creating art.”
On the day the sentencing was announced, Tataloo took to Instagram, where he has over 3.5 million followers, and stated:
God I’m satisfied with your satisfaction!! You’ve got one who only belongs to you and will give his life to you!! You say lay down, and I will lay at your feet! I’m right here and I’m not dressed as a sheep, because being imprisoned in my own country is better than being free on others’ terms and violating my principles!! I will continue my training so that if I remain outside I can be a champion, and if I’m not, you are great, and you will give me a way to serve and stand before you at the end of my days. The rest is up to you.
Insult added to injury
Tataloo was originally sent a court summons on 8 August 2016 to defend himself on charges of “spreading depravity among the youth”. The summons specified that if he did not present himself to the court he would be arrested. The singer took to social media to protest the summons and released a video insulting and threatening Judge Bijan Ghasemzadeh.
Due to the insult and his failure to obey the summons and present himself in court, Tataloo was subsequently arrested on 23 August 2016. Upon his arrest, the singer amassed new charges for insulting the judge and not showing up to court, over and above the original charges, reported BBC on 5 November 2016.
The singer apologised in court for his actions that led to his arrest and was released on 26 October 2016, after being detained for 62 days, to prepare for his trial, reported BBC on 26 October 2016.
Unlicensed artists and foreign channels
Though Tataloo has a strong following, he remains an unlicensed artist in Iran, meaning his music cannot be aired on official radio or TV stations, performed in public, or even be recorded. Artists in Iran need to be approved by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance to legally perform and produce their art, as well as have their work aired on government media stations.
This is not the first time the artist has been arrested. In 2013 Tataloo was arrested for producing music in Iran and airing it on foreign satellite television channels abroad: a common practice for many unlicensed Iranian artists, and a common charge the government uses to crack down on artists. He was later released after he submitted a formal and public apology.
Photo: Amir Tataloo’s Instagram post after the sentencing
» Al Bawaba – 6 November 2016:
Iranian rapper faces the music with 74 lashes and five years in jail
» Iranwire – 5 November 2016:
Underground singer sentenced to ten years in prison
» BBC Persian – 5 November 2016:
Underground singer in Iran sentenced to lashes and 10 years in prison
» Radio Farda – 2 November 2016:
Amir Tataloo released from prison after roughly two months
» Namnak – 31 October 2016:
Letter of judge’s consent about Amir Tataloo
» BBC Persian – 26 October 2016:
Amir Tataloo has been released
» Video8 – 24 August 2016:
Recording of Amir Tataloo’s controversial insult towards Judge Ghasemzadeh
More from Freemuse
» 2 September 2016: Iran: Musician arrested on charges of “spreading depravity”
» 4 December 2013: Iran: Popular rapper arrested by Morality Police