Collaboration with Persian-language networks outside Iran is “illegal,” says Iran’s House of Cinema in a letter addressed to the Association of Iranian Documentary Makers.
The Fars news agency reports that House of Cinema chief MohammadMehdi Asgarpour wrote that the Iranian judiciary and cultural institutions regard these networks as part of the “enemy’s media empire,” which is trying to “destroy Iranian religious, national and cultural values through the soft war.”
Iranian authorities refer to the spread of anti-Islamic Republic ideas through foreign media, films and the internet as a “soft war” against the regime.
The House of Cinema chief went on to add that collaborating with foreign-based, Persian-language networks by sending them films and cultural productions will be seen as “activity against national security and propaganda against the regime” and will be treated as security charges.
Asgarpour also called on those who have already sent their work to such networks to recall the works and end all collaboration.
He went on to confirm that the documentary makers recently detained in Iran had collaborated with such networks. But he added that their activities were due to “a lack of familiarity with the true identity” of these channels and “a lack of knowledge about the legal regulations.”
He added that the House of Cinema will continue trying to resolve the the detained filmmakers’ situation.
In September, six Iranian filmmakers whose films have aired on Persian BBC were arrested and charged with collaboration.
The House of Cinema immediately issued announcements urging the authorities to “uphold the rights of these detainees.” That drew attacks from numerous government officials, who called for the professional organization of filmmakers to be disbanded.
Even Minister of Culture and Guidance Mohammad Hosseiny said he doubted the legality of the House of Cinema’s statements.
Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi announced that the arrest of the six filmmakers was just the beginning of state action against people who have been collaborating with Persian BBC.
He claimed the detainees received large sums of money to carry out “missions against national security.”
BBC has condemned the arrests, however, and stated that it has no employees or collaborators in Iran. The British broacaster claims that the detained documentary makers are independent filmmakers whose work has been screened at international festivals, and the BBC simply bought the rights to air their work, as is customary in the world of film distribution.