Iran judiciary to rule on famed filmmaker’s release: lawyer

The Supreme Court of Iran overturned Jafar Panahi’s conviction, and now the judiciary must decide by Friday whether to grant him bail and release him.

The 62-year-old Panahi, who has won numerous accolades at European film festivals, was detained on July 11. He was scheduled to begin serving a six-year term from a 2010 conviction for “propaganda against the system.”

However, the Supreme Court overturned the conviction and mandated a new trial on October 15.

Saleh Nikbakht, Panahi’s attorney, told AFP that judicial officials informed him early this morning that a decision about Panahi would be made by the end of the week.

“Panahi’s case had been stuck in court since the middle of October, but on Monday it was finally forwarded to the Court of Appeal to begin the legal proceedings.

The attorney declared, “By law, he should right away be released on bond and his case evaluated anew.

For his movie “The Circle,” Panahi took home a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2000. He won the Golden Bear in Berlin in 2015 for “Taxi Tehran,” and he took home the best screenplay award at Cannes in 2018 for “Three Faces.”

Following his endorsement of large-scale demonstrations in 2009 against the disputed results of the presidential election that year, which saw populist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad win a second term, Panahi was found guilty.

As well as the six-year jail term, the court sentenced Panahi to a 20-year ban on directing or writing films, travelling or even speaking to the media. However, he has continued to live and work in Iran.

According to his lawyer, Panahi already suffered from health problems before his arrest and contracted a serious skin disease in prison.

Doctors say he needs to be treated “outside prison”, the lawyer added.

Panahi’s July arrest came after he attended a court hearing for fellow film director Mohammad Rasoulof, who had been detained a few days earlier.

Rasoulof was released from prison on January 7 after being granted a two-week furlough for health reasons, his lawyer told AFP.

Separately, a court mandated the release on bail of activist Arash Sadeghi, who was imprisoned during large-scale demonstrations in October protesting Masha Amini’s death while in custody after her arrest for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress code for women, according to the Etemad daily.


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