Iran on Tuesday ordered award-winning Iranian film director Jafar Panahi to serve out his six-year term in Tehran’s Evin Prison, enforcing a previously handed-down sentence from 2011.
The order is the latest move in a protracted government campaign to silence critics amid growing economic turmoil and political pressure.
Panahi, perhaps Iran’s best-known filmmaker, was arrested July 11 during a visit to the Tehran prosecutor’s office to check after fellow filmmakers Mohamad Rasoulof and Mostafa al-Ahmad, both of whom had been detained just days before.
He and Rasoulof had been arrested in 2010 after participating in a series of street protests and making films perceived as critical of the Iranian government.
Panahi was convicted of “producing antigovernment propaganda” and sentenced to six years in prison. He served two months before being granted a conditional release that barred him from leaving the country and making films for 20 years, though he successfully found ways to make underground films that were released to high acclaim.
Panahi’s films typically consist of portrayals of poverty, sexism, violence and censorship in the Islamic Republic, which has angered Iranian officials.
He has won multiple festival awards, including the 2015 Berlin Golden Bear for “Taxi” and the Cannes Film Festival’s Camera d’Or prize for his 1995 movie “White Balloon.” His movies have not been shown in Iran.
The Cannes festival condemned the imprisonment of Iranian filmmakers.
These arrests come at a time where Iranian rulers have faced heavy criticism over soaring prices, especially for food and housing. Many activists, teachers and retirees have been arrested, according to Iranian media.
Some information for this report came from Reuters and The Associated Press.