November 9, 2020
An Iranian filmmaker jailed since 2018 for her work and criticism of the government has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after going on a hunger strike and attempting suicide in recent months in response to her predicament, according to a knowledgeable source.
Speaking to VOA Persian from Iran on Monday, a source close to the family of filmmaker Maryam Ebrahimvand, 29, said an Iranian court for government employees notified Ebrahimvand’s lawyer of the verdict the previous day.
The source said Ebrahimvand was sentenced to seven years in prison for making a film deemed to be vulgar, two years for allegedly spreading disinformation about Iran’s top military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and one year for allegedly insulting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Ebrahimvand has been imprisoned since July 2018, when IRGC agents detained her at an IRGC-controlled ward of Tehran’s Evin prison. She later was transferred to Evin’s women’s ward.
VOA’s source said Ebrahimvand was handed the seven-year sentence for making a film titled “Girls’ Boarding House” about the rape of girls in Iran, and the two-year sentence for an Instagram post in which she accused the IRGC of oppressive behavior that has driven Iranian youths to emigrate.
Ebrahimvand’s one-year sentence related to critical comments that she made about Rouhani’s cultural policies in a meeting that Rouhani held with filmmakers, the source said. It was not clear when the purported meeting happened.
If Ebrahimvand’s apparent verdict is upheld on appeal, she would serve only the longest prison sentence of seven years under Iranian law.
The source said Ebrahimvand and her lawyer also have been denied access to her case file.
Ebrahimvand provided similar details of the charges against her in an interview published by Iranian state-approved newspaper Shargh Daily on Aug. 23. She also criticized what she said was her lack of access to the case file.
Shargh Daily did not say how it conducted the interview with the jailed filmmaker. Prisons in Iran have telephones for inmates but access to the phones often is restricted.
There has been no comment from Iranian officials in state media about Ebrahimvand’s case in recent weeks.
VOA’s source said Ebrahimvand started a hunger strike on April 20 to protest her uncertain status and ended it after 19 days when authorities promised to respond to her concerns. The source said Ebrahimvand never got the response that she wanted, leaving her depressed and leading her to attempt suicide via a drug overdose on September 18. She survived after being transferred to a hospital and was quickly returned to Evin prison, the source added.
VOA could not independently confirm details of Ebrahimvand’s condition at the prison because it is barred from reporting inside Iran.
IRGC agents first arrested Ebrahimvand in July 2016, interrogating her at Evin for 35 days before releasing her on a $71,000 bail.
The filmmaker later declared her candidacy for Iran’s 2017 presidential election but was disqualified by the Guardian Council that vets candidates to ensure they are sufficiently loyal to the nation’s Islamist ruling system.