Jafar Panahi continues to sit in an Iranian prison, serving a six-year sentence due to his inquiries about arrests of fellow filmmakers Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad. The international film community overwhelmingly denounced his imprisonment as unjust, and the director was able to speak to the world through statements as his latest film, “No Bears,” made the rounds during the 2022 fall festival circuit.
With “No Bears” no longer making headlines, updates on Panahi’s imprisonment have become few and far between. But his wife Tahereh Saeedi recently took to her private Instagram account to explain that her lawyers believe his imprisonment is a violation of Iranian law, as the statute of limitations on his charges has expired.
“One year ago, the verdict of 6 years prison of Jafar was 10 years old and we thought Jafar wouldn’t go back to prison,” Saeedi wrote. “According to the same law that he was judged by, a judgment not executed in 10 years become obsolete. But on July 11th, his birthday, I was informed that he’s been jailed in the name of a judgment passed 11 years ago.”
She continued to question the legality of Panahi’s imprisonment, explaining that his lawyers had previously convinced the Supreme Court of Iran that his sentence was unlawful.
“We forgot why we were happy… Until the day that Mr. Amir- Salar Davoodi, a human rights lawyer, and his cell mate in Evin prison, reminded him of this law in all its specifics,” she wrote. “Saleh Nikhbakht and Youssef Molayi, Jafar’s lawyers pleaded tirelessly Jafar’s case using irrefutable arguments and convinced the Supreme Court of Jafar’s innocence and the outdated judgment to be nullified.”
“Hence he was acquitted by the Supreme Court and his case transferred to the revolutionary court of appeals,” she continued. “According to the law he must be immediately released on bail. And yet? On December 3rd, we are informed an intervention of the security administration was followed by the annulment of the liberation sentence of Jafar.”
Saeedi says she is anxiously waiting for her husband’s release, but expressed concern that the Iranian courts have already missed one deadline.
“Last week we were informed that Jafar will be out in a week. We are happy again. A week passed by and Jafar is still not with us. It’s been exactly 200 days now. We are desperate… The liberation of Jafar is in total accordance of their own laws but they are above the law, without any respect for the law.”