Kurdish Iranian filmmaker Behrouz Ghobadi – a younger brother of internationally acclaimed film director Bahman Ghobadi (Rhino Season) – has been freed from prison in Iran, according to Amnesty International. Since his arrest on November 4, Behrouz Ghobadi was held in an undisclosed location and unable to talk to anyone. His lawyer and members of his family were repeatedly refused in requests to see him.
"Ghobadi never should have been imprisoned," Frank Jannuzi, deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA said in a press release issued Tuesday night. "His imprisonment was one of a series of attacks on freedom of expression by the Iranian authorities. Stifling creative expression by harassing artists and their families shows the depths of Iran's desperate effort to cut off dialogue, much less criticism. These are the actions of a closed government."
Last December, prominent Hollywood artists including Martin Scorsese, Paul Haggis, Liam Neeson, James Franco and Mila Kunis joined Amnesty's campaign demanding Ghobadi's release by speaking out and signing a petition.
In a joint statement, they said, "We are delighted that he has been reunited with his family, particularly his newborn son, Harmang. We are grateful to the countless people who took action with Amnesty International to ensure his freedom. Our collective voices always have the potential to create a din of protest that is too loud to ignore."
While Behrouz Ghobadi remains Iran, his family is concerned that he is accused of acting against national security. But they maintain his innocence and continue to say he has no connections to dissident activities other than helping his brother make his films, such as A Time for Drunken Horses (2000), Turtles Can Fly (2004), Marooned in Iraq (2002) and Half Moon (2006). Bahman’s recent films No One Knows About Persian Cats (2009), about Iranian musicians trying to escape the country, and Rhino Season (2012), which tells the story of a poet who spent 27 years in prison in Iran, have made the filmmaker no friend of the Islamic Republic.