Filmmaker Imprisoned in Iran Launches Hunger Strike

Jafar Panahi is topic of discussion as fellow Iranian Abbas Kiarostami presents his film at Cannes

Jailed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi has gone on a hunger strike to protest the conditions of his detention, according to AFP.

Citing a report on an Iranian opposition website, AFP quoted Panahi's wife, Tahereh Saeedi, saying he did not want to turn into a "guinea pig under torture" and called for "contact with family, access to a lawyer after 77 days and unconditional freedom until a trial."

"In the end I swear to the cinema that I believe in that I will not give up my hunger strike and my only demand is that they hand over my body to my family to bury wherever they want," Panahi was quoted as saying.

Panahi is expected to remain in jail for another two months, his wife told the website.

Panahi had been invited to be a member of the Palme d'Or jury at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival, but his detention prevented him from accepting.

At the festival in France, director Abbas Kiarostami on Tuesday, at a press conference for his film “Certified Copy,” made a plea for Panahi's release.

“When a filmmaker is imprisoned, it is the art which is attacked. I believe we can’t remain different to the situation. One can't give up hope,” Kiarostami said.

Panahi was arrested in early March, allegedly for making a movie about the controversial 2009 elections in Iran. Panahi won the Camera d’Or at Cannes in 1995 for “White Balloon.”