Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof sentenced to 8 years in prison and flogging

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WASHINGTON: Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof has been handed an eight-year prison sentence, as reported by his lawyer.

In a statement on X, Rasoulof’s lawyer Babak Paknia detailed that Iran’s Islamic Revolution Court imposed an eight-year prison term on Rasoulof, along with flogging, a fine and property confiscation. Paknia confirmed that the verdict was upheld in an appellate court and is now pending enforcement.

The lawyer added that Rasoulof’s public declarations and his involvement in film and documentary production were cited as the primary grounds for the sentence. The court interpreted these activities as instances of collaboration aimed at undermining the security of the country.

The development follows Iranian authorities placing significant pressure on Rasoulof to withdraw his latest project, ‘The Seed of the Sacred Fig’, from the Cannes Film Festival. This coercion involved harassing the film’s producers and summoning actors for questioning, prohibiting them from leaving the country.

Paknia, a human rights lawyer, had previously stated in a post on X that authorities summoned and interrogated various actors and producers involved in ‘Sacred Fig’. He further added that Iranian authorities exerted pressure on them to persuade Rasoulof to retract the film from the festival.

“Some of the film’s actors have been banned from leaving, and according to their statements, after several hours of interrogation, they were asked to ask the director to remove the film from the Cannes festival”, Paknia said on X.

According to Variety, Rasoulof was detained by Iranian authorities in July 2022 following his appeal urging Iranian security forces to refrain from using weapons during protests sparked by a building collapse in Abadan, a southwestern city. He was released in February 2023 due to health concerns.

Earlier, Iranian authorities prohibited Rasoulof from attending the Berlinale in 2020. During that event, his daughter Baran Rasoulof, who features in ‘There Is No Evil’, accepted his Golden Bear award. In May of the preceding year, Rasoulof was forbidden from departing Iran to fulfill his role as a member of the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard jury. (ANI)

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