March 3, 2010 / 7:49 PM / in 7 years

Son concerned for detained Iranian film director

TEHRAN (Reuters) - The son of Iranian film director Jafar Panahi, detained this week with his wife and daughter, said he did not know where they had been taken, an opposition website reported Wednesday.

"I do not have any information about their whereabouts and their situation," Kaleme quoted Panah Panahi as saying, a day after it reported the arrest of the prominent film-maker, an opposition supporter who has won many international awards.

"I'm very worried about my family," he said.

Kaleme, the website of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi, said on Tuesday that Panahi, his wife, daughter and 15 guests were held by security forces at his home the previous evening.

A maker of gritty films that examine social issues in the Islamic Republic, including difficulties facing women, Panahi backed Mousavi in last year's disputed presidential election, which plunged Iran into months of political turmoil.

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi on Tuesday confirmed Panahi's arrest but said it was not politically motivated.

Kaleme said Panah Panahi denied reports that his father was making an anti-government film without permission from the authorities. It did not say which reports he was referring to.

"My father had permission ... he has never made a movie about recent events," he said, referring to the June election and its turbulent aftermath.

Last month, festival organizers said Iran had prevented Panahi from traveling to the Berlin film festival. They said a travel ban had been imposed on the 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 Ramin Mostafavi and Reza Derakhsi; writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Janet Lawrence

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