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Filmmaker James Longley detained in Iran (read)

Subject: Help needed, please

Hello friends,

I received this news from my friend James Longley, the Academy-Award nominated director of Iraq in Fragments. He has been in Iran for some time now working on a new film. James wrote to me yesterday and said that he was not going into the streets because people were getting beaten up. He then sent this message about 15 hours ago.

Please help us get the word out. James would like this information to be spread publicly and has given permission.

Thanks so much for any and all help you can give.


3:51 pm

About three hours ago I was interviewing people on the street in downtown Tehran with my translator, not far from the Ministry of Interior building.

There were some riot police about 100 meters away at the other end of the street.

A couple people spoke to the camera – one young woman was saying that “The riot police are beating people like animals. The situation here is very bad; we need the UN to come and help with a recount of the votes!”

At about that time a plain-clothes security guy started grabbing my arm, and together with several uniformed police they dragged me and my translator off to the Ministry of Interior building.

I fared much better than my translator, whom they punched and kicked in the groin. They ripped off his ID and snatched away both our cameras. A passing police officer sprayed my translator in the face with pepper spray, although he was already being marched along the pavement by three policemen.

Unfortunately my camera was still recording and the battery was dislodged in the hubbub, destroying the video file of the interview.

As we reached the Ministry of Interior building they separated us and dragged my translator by his arms across the floor and down a flight of stairs; he eventually regained his footing on the second two flights of stairs leading downward to the holding cell, where about twenty people who had already been grabbed off the streets were kneeling on the floor in the darkened room with their hands tied behind their backs.

All during this process my translator was being kicked and sworn at. The police told him how they “would put their dicks in his ass” and how “your mother/sister is a whore” and so on. At one point he was beaten with a belt buckle. At another moment, they beat him with a police truncheon across his back, leaving a nasty welt.

My translator kept on insisting that he was an officially authorized translator working with an American journalist – which is perfectly true.

At this time I was above ground, in the entrance to the ministry, yelling over and over at the police to “Bring me my translator!” It was clear that they didn’t intend to beat me – although they may have wanted to – because I was a foreigner.

After a few minutes they relented and sent someone off to retrieve my translator from their holding cell, three floors down in the Ministry of Interior building.

They came into the holding cell and shouted “Where is the translator?!” and then, when he identified himself, they beat him again for “not telling them he was a translator.”

An English-speaking riot policeman tried to sweet-talk me, saying that in a riot situation anything can happen. I might have taken him more seriously had a riot actually been taking place when we were arrested. He also asked my translator to convince me not to report what had happened.

Eyewitnesses are reporting that fully-credentialed foreign journalists are similarly being detained all over Tehran today. The deputy head of the Ministry of Guidance just told me on the phone that other journalists have also been beaten, and that the official permissions no longer work. Also, foreign journalist visas are not being extended, so all of those people who were allowed in to cover the elections are now being forced out in the messy aftermath.

All in all, it made me really question what I am doing in this country. It has become impossible to work as a journalist without the risk of physical violence from the government.

- James

by [a former member] at 2009-06-15 19:13:21 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

If people can help James with spreading this recent incident in Iran, I’d appreciate it. James is a wonderful, independent documentary filmmaker who has been nominated for the Academy Award for his film, “Iraq in Fragments”. He is also the director of Sari’s Mother and Gaza Strip.

by [former member] | 15 Jun 2009 19:06 | | Report spam→
Thanks Frank. Have posted to my blog and passed on the text to my contacts.

by Anne Holmes | 16 Jun 2009 15:06 | Bangkok, Thailand | | Report spam→
Looks like more journalists have been harrassed by the authorities. RSF says: “A member of a TV crew working for Italian state broadcaster RAI, a Reuters reporter and a France 3 journalist have been physically attacked by members of the security forces in Tehran. A BBC crew was threatened by police until demonstrators chased the police away. The correspondents of German TV stations ARD and ZDF were forbidden to leave their hotel rooms on 13 June. Two Dutch journalists working for the Nederland 2 TV station and a Belgian TV crew working for RTBF were arrested and expelled.”

Full RSF post here

by Karl Badohal | 17 Jun 2009 12:06 | Krakow, Poland | | Report spam→
this is the reason why whenever I travel to a potentially dangerous area. governmentally or otherwise I carry an emergency GPS locater with me. Luckily I have never had to use it, but it’s probably the most important thing I carry with me, just in case.

by Menashe Wodinsky | 20 Jun 2009 23:06 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
How will a GPS locator help when you are arrested and expelled by the authorities? If You get kidnapped by terrorists/ rebels/ freedom fighters, the first thing the kidnappers usually do is take away all your gadgets. so a GPS beacon is totally useless unless you’re stuck in an avalanche or lost in the desert or jungle.

by [former member] | 21 Jun 2009 04:06 | Bangkok, Thailand | | Report spam→
First, I would assume that if you’re arrested, your belongings would be held somewhere in the building. With a 30 hour life on my GPS I figure it would be enough time for someone to notice where I am. (and when it goes off there are people who I have who would watch it.) as for rebels/terrorists, It’s really more for peace of mind, at the same time. I again assume (this is all based on assumption) that they would take me, and my belongings, and if they are taken, the GPS would tell exactly where they are. (it doesnt look like a GPS so there would be no reason to chuck it as one, I keep it with my photo equipment) at the same time, I’m not really afraid of terrorists or rebels (except for south america, and I’m not going to be there anytime soon that I know of) I’m more worried of being held against my will in a foreign prison and having the US consulate find out only months later.

by Menashe Wodinsky | 21 Jun 2009 05:06 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
“I’m not really afraid of terrorists or rebels”… good for you. go be a hero. I’m sure you’re right and everybody else is just stupid.

Now let’s get back to what this thread is about. James, not you.

by [former member] | 21 Jun 2009 06:06 | Bangkok, Thailand | | Report spam→
i’m apparently superman

by Menashe Wodinsky | 21 Jun 2009 07:06 | New York, United States | | Report spam→

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Anne Holmes, Photographer/Writer Anne Holmes
Phnom Penh , Cambodia
Karl Badohal, photographer Karl Badohal
Krakow , Poland ( KRK )
Menashe Wodinsky, Freelance Menashe Wodinsky
(Be your own hero)
New York , United States ( JFK )


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