Iran opposition

Iran filmmakers call for release of dissident director Jafar Panahi

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Iran’s main filmmakers’ union on Tuesday called on authorities to release renowned dissident director Jafar Panahi, who has been imprisoned for six months.

Panahi, 62, one of Iran’s most awarded filmmakers, was arrested on July 11 and is serving a six-year sentence handed down in 2010.

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The House of Cinema, which brings together professional filmmakers in Iran, called for his release “as soon as possible,” in a statement posted on its website.

It appealed for Iran’s judiciary to take into account the “physical condition and illness” of the filmmaker, without elaborating.

Panahi has won the top prizes in Venice for “The Circle” and Berlin for “Taxi”, as well as best screenplay at Cannes for “Three Faces.”

On top of his six-year sentence, he was handed a 20-year ban from making or writing films, travelling or even speaking in the media, but he continued to work in Iran.

He was convicted of “propaganda against the system” after supporting 2009 protests over the disputed re-election of then president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In July, Panahi was arrested at the Tehran court where he had gone to follow the case of another award-winning director, Mohammad Rasoulof, who had been detained a few days before.

On Wednesday, Rasoulof’s lawyer told AFP that his client had been released on January 7 for two weeks on health grounds.

Iran has arrested a number of celebrities from the country’s film industry in connection with the protest movement sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old ethnic Kurd, in September last year.

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