19 And A Half Years.
Blogging has been criminalised by the Iranian State.
Reporters without Borders has more:
“Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the extremely long jail sentence that has just been passed on Iranian blogger and journalist Hossein Derakhshan. He has been sentenced to 19 and a half years in prison followed by a five-year ban on political and journalistic activities. He has also been fined the equivalent of more than 30,000 euros.
“Such a long jail term has never before been imposed on a blogger in Iran and is indicative of a desire to make an example out of Derakhshan,” Reporters Without Borders said. “He is the victim of political rivalry within the government and the case against him was fabricated. We urge President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to intercede personally in order to obtain his release without delay.”
The press freedom organisation added: “Derakhshan defended the Islamic Revolution’s principles, supported Ahmadinejad’s policies and returned to Iran from Canada after being assured by people close to the president that he would not be arrested. Canada and the rest of the international community must press for this harsh sentence to be quashed and for Derakhshan to be freed at once.”
Derakhshan’s partner, Sandrine Murcia, said the judge in charge of the case telephoned the family today to confirm the verdict and sentence, details of which had been published on the pro-government website Asriran.
Derakhshan was convicted of collaborating with enemy states, propaganda against the Islamic Republic, propaganda in support of counter-revolutionary groups, “insulting what is holy” and creating immoral websites. He can appeal against the verdict.
Arrested by Revolutionary Guards on 1 November 2008, Derakhshan was given a trial without due process and had remained in detention even since awaiting the court’s verdict. He is a collateral victim of in-fighting between the Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian intelligence services.”
The Globe and Mail has background:
“Mr. Derakhshan, 35, is widely known by his online name “Hoder.” He was born in Iran, but moved to Canada and became a Canadian citizen in early adulthood. He is a staunch advocate of free expression in Iran, and became known as the “blogfather” of Iran’s on-line community for training pro-democracy advocates to blog and podcast in the late nineties. Later, he apologized for his dissenting views, and emerged as an unlikely supporter of the regime, at one point comparing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a modern-day Che Guevara.
So when the Iranian government invited him to travel to Iran in 2008, he accepted, thinking he would help his country reach out to the world, according to friends and family. Upon his arrival, however, another branch of the government arrested him.
On Tuesday, he was convicted of insulting Islamic thought and religious figures, managing obscene websites and co-operating with “enemy states” because he visited Israel five years ago. He was also ordered to pay the equivalent of approximately $45,000 in fines.
“It’s not as bad as a death sentence, but it’s an awful and really bad sentence for someone that’s only writing,” Mr. Derakhshan’s former wife, Marjan Alemi told CBC’s The Current.
“He went back thinking he could go back to Iran and help,” she added.
Ms. Alemi said Mr. Derakhshan has spent most of the two years preceding his trial in solitary confinement.
“He can’t exercise. He can’t have books. He can see his family for only five or 10 minutes a week,” Ms. Alemi said. Neither the family’s lawyer, nor any representative from the Canadian government were present at his trial.”
Update 1: Iranian.com has a piece on him.
These are clips from Hossein Derakhshan before his return to Iran and arrest. He answered questions from his blog visitors.
Update 2: Free the blog father has a petition.
Update 3: I missed Terry Glavin’s earlier piece on this issue.
Plus the Free Hoder blog.