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Relatives Of Jailed Iranian Filmmaker Say COVID-19 Not Fully Treated In Prison

Jafar Panahi's son says that his father's transfer to the hospital was just for show.

The wife of a jailed Iranian filmmaker and activist says her husband was taken to the hospital for treatment of COVID-19 but was returned to prison without going through treatment.

Tahereh Saeedi, Jafar Panahi's wife, told RFE/RL that her husband was transferred to a hospital in Tehran and was expected to spend the quarantine period there. But the security agents suddenly removed an IV and took him back to prison.

"He has not had any contact with us since then and it is very unlike Jafar. It is not a good sign and I am very worried," Saeedi told RFE/RL on August 8.

The news of the well-known Iranian filmmaker's infection with COVID-19 was published on August 6, more than three weeks after his arrest.

In an audio file received by RFE/RL, Panahi said that after he tested positive for coronavirus he was transferred to the "patient room" to spend his illness and found it "ruined."

Then, with severe fever and chills, Panahi requested that prison authorities send him to a health center outside the prison for treatment, but his request was initially opposed.

Panah Panahi, Panahi's son, said on Instagram on August 7 that his father's transfer to the hospital was just for show.

"They brought him to say that we brought him to the hospital," he said. "They removed the serum from his hand in the middle of the treatment and put him in a car and returned him to prison."

Panahi, 62, was arrested earlier in July as part of a renewed crackdown by the Iranian authorities on dissent as anti-establishment sentiment and near-daily protests across the Islamic republic rattle the government.

Days prior to his arrest, Panahi was among more than 300 Iranian filmmakers and cultural activists who issued a statement condemning the arrests of activist cinematographers Mohammad Rasulof and Mostafa al-Ahmad.

Panahi originally served two months in prison after his 2010 conviction before being granted a conditional release that was revocable. As part of his release, he was banned from directing or writing screenplays and from traveling abroad.

The filmmaker has won a number of international awards for films critiquing modern Iran, including the top prize in Berlin for Taxi in 2015 and best screenplay at Cannes for Three Faces in 2018.

With writing and reporting by Ardeshir Tayebi