Actors go to UN demanding Iran release jailed director

Hollywood stars including Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon are launching a campaign with Amnesty International calling for the release of the acclaimed Iranian film-maker Jafar Panahi, who has been sentenced to six years in prison.

Panahi, who angered the government by supporting Iran‘s opposition green movement, is also banned from directing and producing films for 20 years after being found guilty in December of making propaganda against the regime.

Amnesty International said a group of campaigners would deliver to the UN in New York tens of thousands of signatures including from Penn, Sarandon, Martin Scorsese and Ridley Scott demanding Panahi’s conviction be overturned.

About 20,000 people have signed the petition, along with Iranians including film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, pop singer Googoosh, academics Hamid Dabashi and Azar Nafisi, and previously imprisoned journalists Roxana Saberi and Maziar Bahari.

Campaigners intend to hold a rally in New York outside the UN offices attended by Oscar-winning film-maker Paul Haggis. They will symbolically rename a nearby New York street plaza “Azadi Square” (freedom square) after the rallying point in Tehran where thousands gathere… >>>

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