Iran arrests top film-maker Jafar Panahi for supporting Green movement

• Panahi held with his wife, daughter and 15 guests on Monday
• Tehran’s prosecutor claims Panahi’s detention is ‘not political’

Ian Black
Guardian [UK]
2 March 2010


Iranian security forces have detained Jafar Panahi, one of the country’s most internationally celebrated film-makers, as part of a continuing crackdown on supporters of the opposition Green movement.

Panahi was held with his wife, daughter and 15 guests on Monday evening, according to Kalame, the website of Mir Hossein Mousavi, who claims he won last June’s disputed presidential election.

In the first official comment on the high-profile arrest, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi was quoted as saying that Panahi’s detention was “not political” and was linked to another case that was already under investigation.

Dowlatabadi had recently signalled a more “compassionate” approach to opposition protesters after mass pro-government rallies on last month’s anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Still, Panahi’s arrest is bound to be seen as part and parcel of repression that has seen thousands of opposition supporters detained in the last few months. Most have been freed but more than 80 people have been imprisoned for up to 15 years and two people have been executed…

…Panahi, 49, was already under a travel ban imposed after he wore green – the symbolic colour of opposition supporters – at the Montreal film festival. Like many Iranian artists, he supported Mousavi, an architect and well-known cultural figure.

Last summer he was detained after attending a memorial for Neda Agha Soltan, who was shot dead during the first post-election protests, and was banned from leaving the country last month to attend the Berlin film festival.

Most of his films are banned in Iran. One of them, The Circle, which criticised the treatment of women under the Islamic regime, won the Golden Lion award at the 2000 Venice Film Festival. In 2006 his film Offside challenged Iran’s official ban on woman attending football matches by portraying a group of girls who disguise themselves as boys to be able to watch a match…

The article continues at the Guardian.

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