The director will also receive 223 lashes following a ruling in an Iranian court on Saturday (10Oct15), when he was convicted on charges of "insulting sanctities" in the conservative Islamic state. The counts relate to footage Karimi shot for his film Writing on the City, which explored political graffiti in Iran from the 1979 Islamic Revolution to the nation's controversial 2009 elections.

Karimi, who remains free as he plans to appeal the ruling, insists he has done nothing wrong, and suggests officials have jumped to conclusions about his work without actually viewing the projects.

He tells The Associated Press, "I don't know what happened that I should go to jail for six years. I speak about the government, I speak about society, I speak about (graffiti), I speak about a labourer. Watch my movies and... (then) judge me."

He adds, "I don't know what will happen. I'm really shaken about this judgment."

Karimi's sentence is the latest controversial ruling in Iran to hit headlines after reports on Monday (12Oct15) suggested Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian had been convicted of charges including espionage. The correspondent, who holds dual U.S. and Iranian citizenship, has been detained in Iran for 14 months and faces up to 20 years in prison.

Last year (14), seven Iranian youths were given suspended jail terms for ignoring performance art laws and posting video footage of themselves dancing to Pharrell Williams' Happy hit.