It’s been over a year now since the arrest of Hossein Derakhshan, popularly known as Hoder. Ever since he wrote the first Persian-language blogging guide in November 2001, he has helped pioneer the Iranian blogging community while living in his adopted home of Toronto. (Derakhshan is a dual citizen of Iran and Canada.)

However, beginning in 2006, Derakhshan’s views started changing. He called for Iran to have nuclear weapons, and engaged in personal attacks against people that he disagreed with politically. He was even sued for libel by another Iranian in September 2007.

A year later, he returned to his homeland for the second time in nearly ten years. While there, he continued to espouse very nationalistic views. His family had advised against his return, but Derakhshan went anyway, and was arrested on November 1, 2008.

This is the story of how he got to this point, and an examination of the lack of information his family has received from Iranian and Canadian authorities up until this point.

This original audio report for MediaShift is based on interviews with people who knew Derakhshan in Iran, and archival tape of interviews conducted with Derakhshan:

You can read Derakhshan’s blog, which is now offline, via the Internet Archive.

Addendum

Earlier this week, MetaFilter, users discovered that Hoder.com was set to expire at the end of this month. They wanted to make sure it stayed in Derakhshan’s name. Some users suggested that the registrar wouldn’t allow the domain to be renewed unless Derakhshan did it himself, which was of course impossible. However, later in the day, the domain’s whois records showed that it had been renewed it for a year, though it was unclear how or why it had happened. It ends up that GoDaddy stepped in to renew the domain for him. Read my report on what happened.

Cyrus Farivar is an Iranian-American freelance technology journalist, a freelance radio reporter/producer, and is a wanderlust geek who lives in the city of Oakland, California. He regularly reports for National Public Radio, The World (WGBH/PRI/BBC), and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He also freelances for The Economist, Foreign Policy, Slate, The New York Times, Popular Mechanics, and Wired. He is currently working on a book, “The Internet of Elsewhere,” about the history and effects of the Internet on different countries around the world, including Senegal, Iran, Estonia and South Korea. It is due out from Rutgers University Press in 2010.

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