Iran - Filmmaker with French nationality asks "Why am I still being kept here?"

    MONTREAL, June 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders has written
twice to the French foreign ministry about the Iranian government's refusal to
allow Mehrnoushe Solouki, a documentary filmmaker with French and Iranian dual
nationality, to leave Iran.
    "Solouki is in a very difficult situation," the press freedom
organisation said. "The Iranian authorities are saying nothing. While no
charges were brought against her after she spent a month in detention, the
Tehran prosecutor's office is awaiting a green light from the intelligence
ministry to allow her to leave the country."
    Reporters Without Borders added: "Her family had to mortgage their home
to pay the large amount of bail demanded for her release. This is just one
more source of pressure on the young filmmaker, along with the many summonses
for questioning that she has received since being set free."
    Reached by telephone, Solouki told Reporters Without Borders she did not
understand the Iranian authorities' silence. "Why am I still being held in
Iran?" she asked. "Didn't I have the consent and politically sacrosanct
authorisations of Iranian officials to come to Iran? To spend time here and to
film? Have I broken any rule, any of the rules laid down by the Islamic
Republic? After an investigation, the Iranian judicial authorities concluded
that I had not."
    Solouki added: "So why I am still being held in Iran? Am I guilty because
I have French citizenship? Because I resided in Canada? Because I am an
independent filmmaker? The interior ministry's silence does not bode well."
    Solouki went to Iran in December 2006 to make a documentary about the
events that followed the 1988 cease-fire between Iraq and Iran. She was
arrested on 17 February and was held in Evin prison. She was finally released
on 19 March after payment of 100 million toumen (80,000 euros) in bail. Her
French passport was returned to her after the French embassy intervened. But
the Iranian authorities are still holding on to all her notes and a portable
hard drive that contains 70 per cent of the film she shot.
    Parnaz Azima, a journalist with Iranian and American dual nationality who
works for Radio Free Europe in the Czech Republic, is also currently barred
from leaving Iran. She was accused of "propaganda against the Islamic
Republic" and working for a "counter-revolutionary" radio station after she
travelled to Iran in January to see her ailing mother. She has avoided
imprisonment by paying the equivalent of 411,000 euros in bail but the
authorities are holding on to her passport and she must remain in Iran until
her trial takes place.

    Reporters Without Borders defends imprisoned journalists and press
freedom throughout the world. It has nine national sections (Austria, Belgium,
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). It has
representatives in Bangkok, London, New York, Tokyo and Washington. And it has
more than 120 correspondents worldwide.

For further information:

For further information: Emily Jacquard, Directrice générale, Reporters
Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514) 521-7771,

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