Iranian Filmmaker Speaks Out on Prisoners
New York Times / Robert Mackey

Abbas Kiarostami, a celebrated Iranian filmmaker who has won numerous international awards for films like “ Close-Up” and “ Through The Olive Trees,” published an open letter in a Tehran newspaper on Tuesday calling for the release of Jafar Panahi and Mahmoud Rasoulof, two directors recently detained by the authorities.

Mr. Kiaorstami sent the original, Persian-language text of his letter and an English translation to The Lede from Iran through a mutual friend, Hooman Majd, the author of “The Ayatollah Begs to Differ.” The complete text of the translation is below. The original text is available for download.

Mr. Panahi, who has directed two films scripted by Mr. Kiarostami, “The White Balloon,” and “ Crimson Gold,” was arrested last week, as my colleague Nazila Fathi reported.

In an interview uploaded to YouTube, he discussed the event that inspired his 2006 film “ Offside,” which is about a group of Iranian women who want to be allowed to watch a soccer match.

According to The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, a source close to him said: “Over the past years, Ministry of Intelligence authorities have summoned Jafar Panahi to different investigation offices of the Ministry in different locations and have questioned him. In one of these meetings he was told, ‘Just because you are a famous filmmaker, you mustn’t think that we are unable to arrest you. We can arrest you whenever we decide.’”

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