Jailed filmmaker Jafar Panahi on hunger strike

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The Independent Online

The acclaimed Iranian filmmaker and opposition supporter Jafar Panahi has gone on a hunger strike in protest against his imprisonment.

Rahesabz, a pro-reform Iranian website, quoted the filmmaker's wife, Tahereh Saeidi, as saying that he had stopped eating and drinking on Sunday morning and plans to continue his protest until he is allowed to see his family, meet a lawyer and be set free pending trial.

Panahi, pictured, who supported the opposition in Iran's presidential election last year, was taken into custody in early March. A state prosecutor has said the detention is not political and that Panahi is suspected of committing unspecified offences.

At the Cannes Film Festival, where Panahi was supposed to be a member of the jury, fellow Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami called for his release. "When one puts an artist in prison, it's art itself that's imprisoned."