"this is a kidnapping"

Jafar Panahi, Iranian Filmmaker, Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison

Jafar Panahi. Photo: John Sciulli/WireImage

Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who’s behind Taxi and 3 Faces, has been sentenced to six years in prison following a July 11 arrest in the capital city of Tehran, Iran’s judiciary says. Panahi’s wife condemned the government’s decision in a statement to BBC Persia. “Jafar has some rights as a citizen,” she said. “There’s due process. To imprison someone, the person needs to be summoned first. But to imprison someone who is protesting outside the jail raises a lot of questions. This is a kidnapping.” Iran’s judiciary says that Panahi never completed the six-year prison term he was ordered to serve in 2010. “Panahi had been sentenced in 2010 to a total of six years in prison … and therefore he was entered to the detention center of Evin to serve his sentence there,” judiciary spokesman Masoud Setayeshi told the press. Panahi and fellow filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof were arrested for filming without a permit and “propaganda against the system,” though both of their sentences were reduced in 2011. Panahi remained on house arrest and was banned from leaving or making films outside of Iran prior to the July 19 sentencing.

The sentencing comes amid a recent target on activist filmmakers and artists in Iran that saw two other directors imprisoned in past weeks. Mostafa Al-Ahmad and Mohammad Rasoulof were arrested in response to a statement shared on social media critical of government corruption and Iran’s response to May protests of a building collapse that left at least 33 people killed in Abadan. Panahi was first held by authorities after he went to the Evin prison prosecutor’s office to inquire about the July 8 arrest of Al-Ahmad and Rasoulof, according to the Mehr News Agency.

Cannes Film Festival issued a statement in response to the string of arrests. “The Festival de Cannes strongly condemns these arrests as well as the wave of repression obviously in progress in Iran against its artists. The Festival calls for the immediate release of Mohammad Rasoulof, Mostafa Aleahmad, and Jafar Panahi,” the festival wrote. “The Festival de Cannes also wishes to reassert its support to all those who, throughout the world, are subjected to violence and repression. The Festival remains and will always remain a haven for artists from all over the world and it will relentlessly be at their service in order to convey their voices loud and clear, in the defense of freedom of creation and freedom of speech.”

Iranian Filmmaker Jafar Panahi Sentenced to 6 Years in Jail