Behrouz Ghobadi, a production manager and short film director, is believed to have been detained by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, accused of acting against national security.

His brother, acclaimed director Bahman Ghobadi, has launched an impassioned plea for the Iranian authorities to release Behrouz, who he believes is being detained unjustly.

According to Bahman Ghobadi, Behrouz, who suffers from a number of chronic illnesses, was arrested in Iran two weeks ago by the country’s Intelligence Ministry.  

“He has never been involved in any political or opposition activities,” said the director. “He was interested in film, served as a production manager in some of my movies, and directed a few short films.”

The Iranian Kurd, director of Cannes winners No One Knows About Persian Cats and A Time for Drunken Horses, has lived in exile for a number of years.

His 2009 drama No One Knows About Persian Cats in part chronicles the struggle of young underground Iranian musicians who are trying to evade government censorship. His latest film Rhino Season, starring Monica Bellucci and Behrouz Vossoughi, charts the story of a Kurdish Iranian poet searching for his wife after being unjustly incarcerated for 30 years in Iran.

According to the human rights non-profit organization International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the organization has “documented several cases of arrest or persecution of family members of Iranian political activists and journalists who themselves live outside Iran.”

“In all noted cases the family members have not been implicated in any crimes and their summonses, arrests, interrogations, and intimidation have all been aimed at putting pressure on the activists and journalists to stop their professional activities outside Iran.”

Ghobadi is the latest filmmaker to be detained by Iranian authorities. In December 2010 renowned director Jafar Panahi was sentenced to a six-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on directing any films, writing screenplays, giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media and from leaving the country. The director was prosecuted for attempting “to commit crimes against the country’s national security and propaganda against the Islamic Republic.” He now lives under house arrest.

Fellow director Mohammad Rasoulof was also detained, with the arrests sparking international outrage.

Statement from Bahman Ghobadi

“My younger brother, Behrouz Ghobadi, disappeared more than two weeks ago, and I have learned that he has been detained by Iranian authorities and accused of acting against national security. My family and I are certain he is innocent and incapable of such actions.  We are extremely concerned about his well-being and ask the Iranian authorities to release him immediately.

“We now know that Behrouz was detained by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry. Over the last two weeks he has been denied his basic rights, including contact with his family and access to a lawyer.  We have searched for him at several prisons and asked the Iranian judiciary for information, but no one has told us where he is being held.

“In the early morning of Sunday, November 4, Behrouz left Sanandaj, Iran, in a taxi headed for Tehran to see his mother and catch a flight.  We later learned that approximately 15 kilometers outside Sanandaj, plainclothes forces riding in two cars stopped the cab and arrested him.

“Behrouz is a 40-year-old Sunni Muslim Iranian Kurd.  He has never been involved in any political or opposition activities.  He was interested in film, served as a production manager in some of my movies, and directed a few short films.  Last year, he moved from Iran to Kurdistan, Iraq, to run a store that sells shampoo and soap. One month ago, his wife gave birth to their first child, a son, Harmang.  Behrouz is his family’s sole provider, and he has also been taking care of our elderly mother.

“We are extremely worried about Behrouz, especially because of his chronic health issues.  He has platinum posts in both of his legs from a car accident several years ago in Kurdistan, Iran. He also requires care and medication for his gout, weak heart, and respiratory problems.  We ask that the Iranian authorities release him without delay.”