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Six Iranian filmmakers arrested by national authorities

21.09.2011

On Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and 18, six Iranian filmmakers were arrested in their own country by national authorities. They are accused of collaborating secretly with BBC Persian. The broadcaster has denied that the arrested filmmakers are employees.

As reported by several news sources the arrested filmmakers are Naser Saffarian, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, Hadi Afarideh, Mohsen Shahrnazdar, Katayoun Shahabi and Mehrdad Zahedian.

However EDN has received information stating that Mehrdad Zahedian is not among the six arrested filmmakers, and that the name of the sixth arrested filmmaker is still unknown. It is confirmed that Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, the former president of IRDFA – The Iranian Documentary Filmmakers Association, is among the arrested filmmakers.

Iran's minister for culture and Islamic guidance, Seyed Mohammad Hosseini, confirmed the arrests of a group of filmmakers. He said the detainees had been arrested by groups affiliated to Iran's intelligence and security organisations.

Sadeq Saba, head of BBC Persian, denied claims that the detainees were working for the channel. "The people said to be arrested have no connection with the BBC Persian," he said. "They are independent documentary film-makers and we have shown films belonging to some of them after buying rights to broadcast them in the past but these films were never commissioned by BBC Persian and were produced independently."

According to the information we have at EDN negotiations with several film organizations on one side and authorities on the other are now taking place in order to get the six filmmakers released.

We will of course post further updates on this story as we get more information about the situation with the six arreasted filmmakers.

Update on October 3rd

We have added a picture of the five arrrested filmmakers to this news article. They are from left to right:

Top row: Mohsen Shahrnazdar, Hadi Afarideh, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb. Bottom row: Naser Saffarian, Katayoun Shahabi.

All we know at this point about the five arrested filmmakers is, that they are kept under arrest in the Evin prison. It is located in Evin, northwestern Tehran. It is noted for its political prisoners' wing, where prisoners have been held both before and after the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

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