Berlin slams 'scandalous' jailing of Iranian filmmaker

22nd December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Germany Wednesday slammed the jailing of Iranian filmmaker and vocal opposition backer Jafar Panahi as "scandalous" and "unacceptable" and called on Tehran to lift the sentence.

"Sentencing Jafar Panahi to six years in jail is scandalous," said Markus Loening, in charge of Germany's human rights policy, in a statement issued by the foreign ministry.

"It is simply unacceptable and all the more disconcerting given that Jafar Panahi's films have offered many people in recent years an insight into Iranian society and therefore contributed considerably to intercultural dialogue."

Loening called on authorities in Iran to recognise basic human rights and lift the sentence.

On Monday, Panahi was handed six years in jail and banned from making films and leaving Iran for 20 years, according to his lawyer.

Panahi was arrested on March 1 along with his wife, daughter and several others at his home. Most of those arrested were subsequently released. He was freed on a bail of around 200,000 US dollars in May.

Soon after his arrest, Iranian officials said he was detained for making an "anti-regime" film about the unrest which rocked Iran after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009.

Panahi is known for his gritty, socially critical movies such as the "Circle," which bagged the 2000 Venice Golden Lion award, "Crimson Gold," and "Offside," winner of the 2006 Silver Bear at the Berlin film festival.

On Monday, French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand also criticised the sentence, calling it a "unacceptable attack on his freedom of expression."

His arrest in March was protested by top international filmmakers Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Ang Lee and Oliver Stone and by several young Iranian directors.

© 2010 AFP

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