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03/31/10

Jailed Iranian Filmmaker Panahi Still 'Being Questioned'

By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL

Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi has not yet been officially charged a month after his arrest, his wife tells RFE/RL's Radio Farda.  Panahi, a supporter of Iran's opposition movement, was arrested at his home on March 1. His wife, Tahereh Saeedi, who was allowed to meet him today for the first time since his arrest, says that he's still being questioned.


Jafar Panahi has been in detention for a month without charge

"They keep asking him the same question in order to find some contradictions in his comments," Saeedi said in an exclusive interview with Radio Farda broadcaster Alireza Kermani. (Interview in Persian here.)

Saeedi added that the charges against her husband are not clear. She said she met with a prosecutor who did not state the charges.

Panahi, 49, was briefly detained last summer when he visited the graves of some of the victims of the postelection crackdown. He was later reportedly banned from traveling by authorities who had confiscated his passport.

Panahi has won a number of international awards in recent years, years including the Golden Lion prize at Venice for his 2000 film "The Circle." Some of his films have not received permission to be screened inside Iran.

In this video, Panahi appears at the Montreal World Film Festival wearing the color of the opposition movement and expressing support for young Iranians and those who have been jailed.

In another clip, Panahi discusses his excellent movie "Offside," about a group of Iranian girls who are trying to get into a sports stadium to watch a football match.

In an 2007 interview with the "Los Angeles Times," Panahi described himself as "a social filmmaker" who cannot remain indifferent to the situation surrounding him.

A number of Iranian and western artists have spoken out on Panahi's behalf and called for his release.


Copyright (c) 2010 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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