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Iranian Filmmakers Demand Release Of Famed Colleague

Imprisoned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi
A group of Iranian film directors and artists has written an open letter to the government demanding the "unconditional release" of prize-winning filmmaker Jafar Panahi, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Panahi, 49, was arrested at his home on March 1 along with family and friends in the ongoing crackdown on opposition activists begun after Iran's disputed presidential election in June. The others were later released.

Netherlands-based filmmaker Reza Alamehzadeh told RFE/RL that Panahi had always criticized censorship in Iran. Panahi openly expressed support for Iran's Green Movement as the jury president of the Montreal World Film Festival in September.

"His guilt is that of millions of Iranians who are seeking democracy, which is unforgivable in the eyes of the Islamic republic regime," said Alamehzadeh.

Panahi's family has been barred from visiting him in prison. The charges against him are unclear.

Panahi is one of Iran's most famous filmmakers and has won numerous awards, including the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.