Actor Sean Penn, filmmaker Paul Haggis and movie mogul Harvey Weinstein are backing an Amnesty International campaign to free two Iranian directors who were sentenced to six years in prison earlier this month (Dec10).
Jafar Panahi, a vocal supporter of the country's opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi, was arrested in March (10) and was recently convicted of campaigning against Iran's government. Panahi was handed the punishment alongside fellow filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, who was also jailed for six years.
Martin Scorsese urged Hollywood to "campaign aggressively" for their release, and Penn, Haggis and Weinstein have now joined calls for the pair's freedom by signing Amnesty International's petition backing the moviemakers.
Haggis, the co-founder of Artists for Peace and Justice, says, "As someone who has often gotten in trouble for opening his mouth, it is hard to fathom the idea of being incarcerated for six years simply for speaking my mind, or to be banned from making films for 20 years.
"If this happened to me, I would hope my colleagues would speak out in my name, as we are compelled to speak out in Jafar's. I urge the Iranian authorities to overturn Mr. Panahi's inhumane and unjust sentence.
"I ask that people across the world join Sean Penn, Harvey Weinstein and myself in signing the Amnesty International petition calling for the immediate reversal of the sentence against Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof."