The U.S. State Department on Monday sent out and then deleted a tweet congratulating an Oscar win by director Asghar Farhadi, who criticized President Trump’s travel ban as “inhumane.”
The state department’s official Farsi-language Twitter account, @USAdarFarsi, posted the congratulatory tweet to the Iranian people and Farhadi, director of “The Salesman,” after the movie won an Oscar for foreign-language film on Sunday.
Farhadi boycotted the Oscars ceremony to protest Trump’s January executive order that temporarily banned entry to the United States by Iranians and citizens of six other predominately Muslim countries, and released a statement criticizing the order. Though the ban was blocked by federal courts, the administration is currently working on a new order.
Though Farhadi wasn’t at Sunday’s ceremony, the filmmaker still made a political statement, communicated on his behalf to the audience through engineer Anousheh Ansari, the first female space tourist.
“My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S,” Ansari said, reading from Farhadi’s statement.
According to screenshots circulating on Twitter, the @USAdarFarsi account posted a message around 10 p.m. PST, congratulating Farhadi on the award, which was Iran’s second Oscar victory (its first, “A Separation,” was also directed by Farhadi). The tweet was then deleted, although it is unclear exactly when.
“A congratulatory tweet was posted,” a State Department spokeswoman told Reuters. “We later removed the post to avoid any misperception that the USG [U.S. government] endorsed the comments made in the acceptance speech.”
A second State Department official said the decision to delete the tweet was made within the department.
The @USAdarFarsi account, which seeks to engage directly with Iranians, had previously tweeted messages about “The Salesman,” including on Jan. 24, when it noted its Academy Award nomination and sent warm wishes to Farhadi. This tweet, which is still online, was posted just days before Trump issued the temporary travel ban that ignited Farhadi’s backlash.