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Iranian filmmaker Panahi has been sentenced to six years in prison

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The Iranian judiciary has confirmed the detention of award-winning film director Jafar Panahi. The 62-year-old will serve his sentence in Tehran's Ewin prison, the Iranian judiciary said.

A spokesman for the Iranian judiciary said, according to the state news agency Irna, that Panahi has been in Ewin prison in Tehran for a week. It's about a previous six-year prison sentence that the 62-year-old has to serve.

Panahi was arrested in the Iranian capital on July 11, 2022, when he wanted to inquire about his colleague Rasoulof at the public prosecutor's office. Berlinale winners Mohammed Rassulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad, both prominent directors, had been arrested shortly before.

"The recent arrests of high-ranking critics by the Iranian authorities are part of a new crackdown on peaceful dissidents," the human rights organization Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Tuesday (July 12, 2022). The Cannes Film Festival called for the three directors to be released immediately. A statement said that the arrest and the wave of repression against artists in Iran were strongly condemned.

Like Mohammad Rasoulof, Panahi is also a winner of the Berlinale's Golden Bear. In 2015 he received the main prize for his film "Taxi". In 2018 he was also awarded in Cannes for his screenplay for "Three Faces". The director was unable to accept the awards in person and has not been allowed to leave Iran since he was convicted of "propaganda against the system" in 2010.

Rasoulof, 50, and his colleague Al-Ahmad are accused of "sowing unrest and disturbing the psychological security of society" after the devastating collapse of a high-rise building in Abadan, southwest Iran, on May 23, the state news agency IRNA reported on Friday evening. 43 people died when the high-rise building under construction collapsed. The incident is one of the worst accidents in Iran in recent years and triggered violent protests against the authorities, which were violently suppressed.

"Put your gun down"

Allegedly on the initiative of Rasoulof and Al-Ahmad, a group of more than 70 people from the Iranian film industry published an open letter on the incidents: In view of "corruption, theft, inefficiency and oppression" in connection with the building collapse, they called on the security forces to do so, "to lay down arms".

The hashtag "Put your gun down," an appeal against police violence, went viral. The Iranian judiciary now accuses them of endangering public order with this call and also working with opponents of the regime.

The 50-year-old director won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale in 2020 with his film "There is no evil" . The work was an open affront to the regime in Iran. The filmmaker went to prison afterwards. Numerous film institutions had protested : "It is shocking that a director is being punished so severely for his artistic work," said the directors of the Berlin Film Festival, Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian. 

Because he was not given permission to leave the Berlinale, his daughter Baran accepted the Golden Bear in his place. Rasoulof's passport was confiscated in 2017 after his film "Battle for Dignity" premiered in Cannes.

This is the amended and updated version of an article first published on July 9, 2022.