Javad Shamghadari, the deputy chief of cinema at Iran’s Ministry of Culture, has said that contrary to reports, the conditions at Iranian prisons are actually very good.
ILNA cited Shamghadari saying: "I hope our journalist friends visit Evin Prison so they can see Evin is exactly like a hotel and in very good condition."
Other Iranian officials have spoken up for Iranian prisons over the past two years. In the summer of 2009, when large numbers of protesters were being arrested all across the country, the head of prisons for Theran Province said: "Our cells are like hotel suites, and we have no solitary confinement."
Around the same time, the head of Parliament’s Social Commission, Soleyman Jafarzadeh, said: "The Islamic Republic, unlike other countries, even respects the dignity of criminals," adding that Iranian prisons are like hotels.
With many members of Iran’s opposition incarcerated in prisons across the country, it has spoken out against the "harsh conditions" and the "assault and torture" of prisoners.
Despite some officials’ insistence that prison life is not a hardship, other officials have spoken of prison overcrowding.
Last month, MP Ezzatollah Yousefian, a member of Parliament’s Judicial Commission, said the prisons are being run at four times their intended capacity.
Shamghadari also commented on the recent arrests of members of Iranian film community, saying: "When a member of the film community is experiencing difficulties, we are obliged to follow up on it, but these activities need not always be reflected in the media."
In the past months, actresses Pegah Ahangarani and Marzieh Vafamehr and director Mahnaz Mohammadi were arrested by Islamic Republic authorities on unspecified charges. They were finally released on bail this week.