Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 19 /Trend T.Konyayeva/
Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, has expressed her concerns about the imprisonment sentences imposed on the Iranian prominent filmmaker and actress, the official statement reads.
"High Representative Catherine Ashton was disturbed to learn of the 6-year prison sentence, confirmed after appeal, imposed on the prominent Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi," the statement issued on Wednesday said.
"The High Representative is also very concerned at the sentence of one year's imprisonment and 90 lashes given to prominent actress Marzieh Vafamehr, following her part in a film referring to the difficult conditions in which artists operate in Iran."
Jafari Panahi, 51, was sentenced to six years in prison in December, 2010, and banned from directing and producing films, writing any scripts, traveling abroad and also giving any interviews to the media including foreign and domestic news organizations for the next 20 years.
The international award-winning director was convicted over a documentary he tried to make about the unrest that followed the disputed 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Panahi was reportedly brought charges in acting against national security and propaganda against the regime.
The film-maker's latest appeal against a six-year prison sentence was turned down by the country's authorities on Sunday.
Marzieh Vafamehr was arrested in July, 2011, after performing the lead role in My Tehran For Sale movie, which tells the story of a young actress in Tehran whose work in theatre is banned by the authorities. The Iranian-Australian film provoked a wave of harsh criticism by Iran's conservatives.
The Fars News Agency said the movie had not been approved for screening in Iran and was being distributed in the country illegally.
Vafamehr was released in late July after posting unspecified bail. On October 9, she has been sentenced to 90 lashes and a year in jail.
In her statement Ashton calls on Iran immediately to review both sentences and to put an end to the persecution - whether by detention or other forms of harassment - of these and other members of its artistic community.
"Such treatment is incompatible with the international human rights principles that Iran has freely signed up to: the use of corporal punishment - which amounts to torture - is incompatible with article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," she said. "The right to freedom of expression through art and writing is enshrined in Article 19 of the same Covenant."
On Sept. 27, Iran arrested six independent film makers whose work was screened by the BBC, but the broadcaster denied they were staff employees.
Earlier, Iran has blocked BBC's activities, accusing the corporation of provoking the protest movement after the disputed presidential elections in 2009.
The Iranian Intelligence Ministry issued a statement reading that the members of the network provided the BBC with "propaganda subjects to be exploited in psychological warfare by the enemies of Iran and Islam".
The statement noted that the members of the network, some of whom have been arrested, carried out destructive activities against Iran commissioned by the BBC through illegal underground activities in return for massive sums of money. BBC does not have an office in Tehran.