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December 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Despite earlier hopes that the coming to power as president of moderate Hassan Rouhani would result in greater freedom for Iranian artists, filmmakers and broadcasters, the current government appears unwilling or unable to undo policies suppressing freedom of expression, news reports suggest. The underground Iranian website Sahamnews has disclosed that filmmaker and designer Samad Khatibi, who had supported Rouhani in his campaign for the Iranian presidency, was arrested on his arrival in Tehran from the Netherlands ten days ago and remains in custody. The arrest was apparently carried out by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which, like the country’s judiciary, operate independently from the Iranian government. On Wednesday, Iran’s state-run English-language newspaper Tehran Times reported that 16 individuals “linked with foreign agents” were arrested in Kerman Province, charged with “developing content for counter-revolutionary websites with the aim of overthrowing the Islamic Republic system.” Rouhani has shown little taste for confronting the Revolutionary Guards over such arrests or for moving to overturn the sentences of political prisoners such as award-winning filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who remains under house arrest after his conviction in 2010 on charges of making “propaganda against the state.”