Filmmaker and IDA member Mohammed Ali Shirzadi has been held in Iran's notorious Evin Prison for the past five months, in the wake of the crackdown following last year's disputed elections. Shirzadi is one of many journalists and filmmakers-including the recently released filmmaker Ja'far Panahi--who were arrested during the crackdown.
Shirzadi was arrested in January of this year. According to a report in astreetjournalist.com and on Amnesty International UK's website, his family believes he was arrested because of an interview he filmed in 2008 between human rights advocate Emadeddin Baghi--founder of the now-banned Association in Defense of Prisoners' Rights, of which Shirzadi was a member--and the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. Baghi was arrested shortly after the Montazeri died in December 2009, and remains in prison.
Amnesty International called for the release of both Shirzadi and Panahi last month, and following a high-profile appeal at the Cannes Film Festival, which had invited Panahi to serve on the jury, Panahi was released. Prior to the Cannes Film Festival,
Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock issued this statement: "Free speech has been severely restricted in Iran since last year's disputed elections, and thousands of people have been locked up: journalists, activists, students and demonstrators. Once again Iran is shaming itself on the international stage as it seeks to repress its own citizens and silence its critics. These men are prisoners of conscience, detained for the peaceful expression of their opinions. The Iranian authorities should release them immediately."