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Middle east

Court upholds jail sentence against Iranian film director

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-10-15

The six-year prison sentence handed-down to the award-winning Iranian film director Jafar Panahi for 'acting against national security' has been upheld by an appeals court Saturday. The 51-year-old director was sentenced two weeks ago.

AFP - A Tehran appeals court has upheld a six-year jail sentence and 20-year filmmaking and travel ban against international award-winning Iranian director Jafar Panahi, his family told AFP on Saturday.

The verdict, handed down around two weeks ago, has not yet been carried out, the family said.

The government-run newspaper Iran confirmed the ruling in its Saturday edition, saying: "The charges he was sentenced for are acting against national security and propaganda against the regime."

The daily also said that a six-year jail sentence against another Iranian filmmaker, Mohammad Rasoulof, was reduced to one year in the same appeal.

Panahi, 51, has won a slew of foreign awards for his films. But many are banned in Iran where authorities are unhappy with his portrayal of everyday life in the Islamic republic.

One of Panahi's latest productions was a documentary entitled "This is not a Film," depicting a day in his life as he waited to hear the verdict from the appeal. It was screened at the Cannes film festival in May.

Panahi's family said the filmmaker was still free pending the imposition of the jail sentence.

Panahi's lawyer, Farideh Ghairat, said: "We have no news. The verdict has not been confirmed to us."

The appeals court upheld an initial sentencing of Panahi handed down in December 2010, when he was convicted of "propaganda against the system" for making a film about the unrest that followed the controversial re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009.

Rasoulof, 38, co-directed that film and received a similar sentence. The reason for the reduction of his jail term on appeal was not disclosed.

Neither Panahi nor Rasoulof were allowed to leave Iran to attend the Cannes film festival, where they both had movies screened. Rasoulof's wife picked up his best-director prize in the Un Certain Regard section of the festival.

Panahi's confirmed sentence orders him to six years behind bars, plus a 20-year ban on directing or writing for movies, and a 20-year ban on travel except for the Hajj holy pilgrimage to Mecca or for medical treatment.

Date created : 2011-10-15

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