REACTIVE: The battle for press freedom in Iran

Talk September 30, 2011 7:00 PM


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Almost two weeks after their arrest, little has been heard about the fate of the six Iranian filmmakers who are currently being held in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison with no access to their lawyers.

Accused of collaborating secretly with BBC Persian and illegally supplying content portraying Iran in a negative light, they have been condemned as “a group of terrorists, Bahais, communists and devil worshippers” by Iran’s Minister of Intelligence.

Iran insists that the filmmakers are part of the British Secret Service working under the guise of the BBC – allegations the BBC has denied.

In a statement released last week the BBC said that the filmmakers currently detained in Iran are independent documentary makers and BBC Persian television had bought the rights to broadcast their film. Iran and the BBC have had a tense relationship since the 2009 revolution, when Iran accused the BBC of fostering the unrest that followed the elections.

These latest arrests also raise concerns about what appears to be a wider crackdown: two leading Iranian filmmakers, Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof have been arrested and imprisoned in the past year.

Join us at the Frontline Club for this reactive briefing to discuss the detainment of the filmmakers, the battle for press freedom in Iran and the regime’s relationship with foreign media.

Chaired by Lindsey Hilsum International Editor for Channel 4 News.


Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari who was detained in Iran during the 2009 uprising;

Drewery Dyke, Amnesty International’s Iran researcher;

Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, BBC Senior Correspondent and producer of The Ways of the Ayatollah;

Saeed Kamali Dehghan, award-winning Iranian journalist who writes for The Guardian. He was named 2010 Journalist of the Year at the Foreign Press Association Awards;

Picture Credit:

An image taken from award-winning Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s This is Not a Film that documents his house arrest as he waits for a court verdict that, when it comes, could mean he will spend six years in jail and be banned from writing or filming for the next 20 years. The film was codirected by Mojtaba Mirtahmasb one of those who has been arrested. We will be screening the film in October.