Film director Rasoulof fled Iran on foot, newspaper says

London — Film director Mohammad Rasoulof made an “exhausting and extremely dangerous” walk across a mountainous borderland to avoid being jailed in Iran on national security charges, he told The Guardian newspaper. 

Rasoulof said Monday he had fled Iran after a court sentenced him to eight years in jail, of which five were due to be served, over his new film “The Seed of the Sacred Fig.” 

The leading Iranian filmmaker, often a target of the country’s authorities, told The Guardian in an interview published Friday that he had found shelter in Germany and was hopeful he could attend the film’s Cannes premiere next week. 

The film tells the story of a judge’s struggles amid political unrest in Tehran. 

Rasoulof told the U.K. newspaper that he had “no choice” but to leave, although he expects to return home “quite soon.” 

“My mission is to be able to convey the narratives of what is going on in Iran and the situation in which we are stuck as Iranians,” said Rasoulof. 

“This is something that I cannot do in prison. 

“I have in mind the idea that I’ll be back quite soon, but I think that’s the case of all the Iranians who have left the country,” he said. 

Rasoulof has already served two terms in Iranian jails over previous films and had his passport withdrawn in 2017. 

Having decided to leave, Rasoulof told the newspaper he cut all communications via mobile phones and computers and made his way by foot on a secret route to a border crossing.  

“It was a several-hour long, exhausting and extremely dangerous walk that I had to do with a guide,” he said. 

After staying in a safe house, he contacted German authorities who provided him with papers that enabled him to travel to Europe. 

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