March 2, 2010 / 8:16 AM / 8 years ago

Iran detains film director Panahi - reports

Iranian film director Jafar Panahi poses during a photocall at the Berlinale International Film Festival in this February 17, 2006 file photo. Iranian security forces have detained Panahi, winner of many international awards, an opposition website said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian security forces have detained film director Jafar Panahi, winner of many international awards and a supporter of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi, Mousavi’s website said on Tuesday.

Tehran’s public prosecutor confirmed Panahi’s arrest but said it was not politically motivated, the ISNA news agency reported.

Kaleme, Mousavi’s website, said Panahi was held at his home together with his wife, daughter and 15 guests on Monday evening. Panahi’s home was searched and some of his belongings seized, it added.

The director backed Mousavi in last year’s disputed presidential election, which plunged the Islamic Republic into months of political turmoil.

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said his detention was not linked to politics, nor his profession.

“The arrest of Jafar Panahi is not politically motivated, nor does it stem from him being an artist,” ISNA quoted Dolatabadi as saying.

“He is suspected of having ... committed some crimes and was arrested upon the order of the case’s judge along with another person and the investigation in this connection continues,” Dolatabadi said, without giving details.

Last month, festival organisers said Iran had prevented him from travelling to the Berlin film festival. They said a travel ban had been imposed on Panahi, a winner of awards including the top prize at the Venice film festival for “The Circle” in 2000.

Iran’s pro-reform opposition says the June poll was rigged to secure the re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The authorities denied the accusation of vote rigging and portrayed the huge opposition protests that erupted after the vote as a foreign-backed bid to undermine the clerical establishment.

Thousands of opposition supporters were detained after the election. Most of them have since been freed but more than 80 people have been jailed for up to 15 years. Two people put on trial after the election have been executed.

Reporting by Hossein Jaseb; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Jon Hemming

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