London: Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi has lost his appeal against a six-year prison term and a 20-year ban on filmmaking, travelling abroad and talking to the media. He will now approach Iran`s Supreme Court, his lawyer said.
A Tehran appeal court confirmed the sentence, which was handed down in December 2010, during a hearing last week, reports guardian.co.uk
An Iranian newspaper close to the government said the filmmaker was being punished for acting against national security and for "propaganda" against the regime.
Though Panahi is not yet in jail, he is banned from speaking to media or leaving Iran.
The 51-year-old, however, managed to take part in a film documenting a day in his life, "This Is Not a Film", which was premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival in May.
Panahi`s co-director Mojtaba Mirtahmasb was arrested and charged with espionage for working for the BBC shortly before the film`s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last month.
His fate is unclear, as is that of three other filmmakers arrested on the same charges: Katayoun Shahabi, Hadi Afarideh and Shahnam Bazdar. Two other directors, Naser Safarian and Mohsen Shahrnazdar, were recently released.
Panahi, a supporter of the opposition Green movement and critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was initially arrested in July 2009 after he made clear his support for protesters killed following Iran`s disputed presidential election.
He was soon released but denied permission to leave Iran. In February 2010, he was arrested with his family and colleagues and taken to Tehran`s Evin prison.
Panahi`s lawyer, Farideh Gheyrat, said she had only learned about the court`s ruling through the media Sunday. She told the student news agency ISNA that she would appeal to Iran`s Supreme Court.
Panahi won the Camera d`Or at the Cannes film festival in 1995 for his debut feature ‘The White Balloon’ and the Golden Lion at Venice for his 2000 drama ‘The Circle’. His other films include ‘Crimson Gold’ and ‘Offside’.