Reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh with his wife Fakhrosadat Mohtashamipour after his release from Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran, June 2016


Iran authorities have sentenced leading Iran reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh to five years in prison over his dissent.

Tajzadeh was arrested on July 8 (see below) as Iran stepped up detentions of civil society activists and cultural figures who criticized the regime.

He was given concurrent sentences of 5 years for plotting against state security, 2 years for publishing lies, and 1 year for propaganda against the system, said his lawyer Houshang Pourbabai.

Tajzadeh was imprisoned by the regime soon after the mass protests in 2009 over the disputed Presidential election. He was sentenced to six years, later extended by another year over his letters criticizing the Supreme Leader and the regime.

The reformist was also prevented by the Guardian Council from running in Presidential elections, including last year.


Iran authorities have imposed prison sentences of 6 years and 4 months on film director Mostafa al-Ahmad.

Al-Ahmad and fellow filmmmakers Mohammad Rasoulof and Jafar Panahi were detained in July (see earlier entries). Their “crime” was joining a letter, signed by more than 100 figures in the film industry, which called on security personnel to lay down their weapons and “return to the arms of the nation”.

Tehran’s Revolutionary Court imposed sentences on al-Ahmad of 3 years and 8 months for illegal assembly and collusion; 8 months for propaganda against Iran; and 2 years for publishing falsehoods. He was also fined 150 million rials ($450), banned from leaving the country for two years, and forbidden to participate in social or political groups.


Iran’s authorities have detained yet another film director.

Sources said Ali Ahmadzadeh (pictured) was arrested in Tehran on August 30, after he was summoned to security agencies several times in recent months.

Ahmadzadeh recently finished production of a film without obtaining a production license from the Ministry of Islamic Guidance.

His second film, Atom Heart Mother, was shown at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2014. It was only permitted in Iran in 2017 after modifications demanded by the Ministry, but soon after its release, officials shut down distribution.

At least six filmmakers have been arrested in just over three weeks. Officials are cracking down on signatories of an open letter, which called on soldiers to join protests over a deadly building collapse in southern Iran.


Iranian officials have indicted two more filmmakers on political charges.

Majid Barzegar and Mohsen Amir-Yousefi were summoned by a security agency, sources said on Wednesday.

Like fellow filmmakers Jafar Panahi, Mohammad Rasoulof, and Mostafa Aleahmad, the two men were prosecuted after they signed an open letter calling on security forces to stand with demonstrators protesting the deadly collapse of a building in Abadan in southern Iran.


Iran’s authorities have arrested or summoned to prison at least 13 civil society activists in July.

In addition to three film directors and reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh (see below), those targeted include:

  • Nahid Shirpisheh, the mother of Pouya Bakhtiari, a demonstrator killed during Iran’s nationwide protests in November 2019, and her brother-in-law Mehrdad Bakhtiari. Shirpisheh’s husband, Manouchehr Bakhtiari, is already in prison for pursuit of justice over their son’s death.
  • Saeid Damvar, the brother of slain November 2019 protester Vahid Damvar
  • Iran Allahyari, the mother of slain November 2019 protester Mehrdad Moinfar
  • Mahboubeh Ramezani, the mother of slain November 2019 protester Pejman Gholipour
  • Rahimeh Yousefzadeh, the mother of slain November 2019 protester Navid Behboudi
  • Somayeh Jafarpanah, the sister of slain November 2019 protester Mohsen Jafarpanah
  • Sakineh Ahmadi, the mother of slain November 2019 protester Ebrahim Ketabdar
  • Asal Mohammadi, labor affairs reporter, summoned to Evin Prison on July 11 to begin a one-year sentence for “propaganda against the state”
  • Abolfazl Nejadfath, a student arrested during the November 2019 protests, summoned to Evin Prison to begin a 44-month sentence for “assembly and collusion against national security”


Award-winning director Jafar Panahi is the third filmmaker arrested in the past week, according to local media.

Panahi was seized on Monday after going to a local prosecutor’s office to ask about the arrest of his colleague Mohammad Rasoulof.

Panahi won the Golden Bear, the top prize at the Berlinale Film Festival, in 2015 for Taxi. He won best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018 for Three Faces.

Panahi was arrested soon after the mass protests in 2009 against the disputed Presidential election. He was convicted in 2010 of “propaganda against the system”, given a six-year sentence, and barred from leaving Iran.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Stepping up arrests amid nationwide protests, serious economic problems, and stalled nuclear talks, Iran’s authorities have detained leading reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh and film directors Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa al-Ahmad.

Iranian State media announced the arrest of Tajzadeh, the Deputy Interior Minister in the government of President Mohammad Khatami, on Friday. He was charged with “a conspiracy to act against the country’s security” and “publishing falsehoods to disturb the public mind”.

No information was given of the location or of which agency seized the politician.

Tajzadeh has been targeted by the regime since mass protests in 2009 over the disputed Presidential election, “won” by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with the support of the Supreme Leader. He was imprisoned soon after the protests and sentenced to six years, later extended by another year over his letters criticizing the Supreme Leader and the regime.

The reformist was also prevented by the Guardian Council from running in Presidential elections.

Defying the repression, Tajzadeh wrote the open letters from prison challenging the regime over rights and reforms. An October 2011 letter, addressed to Ayatollah Khamenei, criticized the abusive treatment of political prisoners and their families. Before the 2016 Parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections, he wrote to Khamenei about the mass disqualification of reformist candidates.

The former minister asked the Islamic Republic to apologize to the families of political prisoners killed in mass executions during the summer of 1988, and he said in another message.

We must apologize for forcing people into a certain lifestyle and for interfering in their private lives. We thought that as mere humans we could close the tavern doors without opening the doors of deceit and duplicity.

See also Iran Feature: Leading Reformist Tajzadeh Freed After 7 Years

The “crime” of directors Rasoulof and al-Ahmad was to join a letter, signed by more than 100 figures in the film industry. The statement called on security personnel, who “have turned into the people’s oppressors”, to lay down their weapons and “return to the arms of the nation”.

The letter was posted amid nationwide protests over the collapse of a high-rise building in Abadan in May, killing at least 43 people. The signatories said security forces should stand down in the face of “corruption, theft, inefficiency, and repression”.

The Supreme Leader signalled a crackdown on protesters by saying the demonstration were “the enemies’ most important hope for striking a blow at the country”.

Rasoulof and al-Ahmad were accused of “association with counterrevolution” and “inflammation and disrupting the psychological security of society”.

Rasoulof was arrested in 2011 for “filming without permission” and sentenced to six years in prison, later reduced to one year.

He won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale Film Festival for “There Is No Evil”; however, he was unable to accept the award in person — his passported was confiscated after the premiere of his “Battle for Dignity” at the Cannes Film Festival.

The organizers of the Berlinale protested over his latest arrest, “It is shocking that artists are imprisoned for their peaceful efforts against violence.”