Extra: 'Blogfather' Hossein Derakhshan Sentenced to 19.5 Years
28 Sep 2010 20:15
Iranian Canadian Blogger Hossein Derakhshan Receives Over 19 Years In Prison
ICHRI | Sept 28
After months of anticipation and almost two years after his arrest and imprisonment, blogger Hossein Derakhshan was sentenced to 19.5 years in prison by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Courts today. News of the stiff sentence was first published by Mashreq website. A source close to the family of Hossein Derakhshan confirmed the news for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, adding that Derakhshan's family are shocked by the news. "Neither the family nor the lawyer knew about the sentence, they read the news online." The conservative website referred to Hossein Derakhshan as an "anti-revolutionary blogger."
"According to the sentence issued today by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Courts with Judge Salavati presiding, Derakhshan who was arrested in October 2008, has been charged with 'cooperation with hostile states, propagating against the regime, propagation in favor of anti-revolutionary groups, insulting sanctities, and implementation and management of obscene websites,' and sentenced to 19.5 years in prison, five years' ban from membership in political parties and activities in the media; and returning received funds in the amount of 30,750 Euro, US$2,900, and 200 British Pounds," reported the Mashreq website.
According to the source referenced in the Mashreq article, Derakhshan or his lawyer Mahdavi can appeal the ruling. Hossein Derakhshan's family have tried to avoid speaking to the media during the months after his arrest, hoping to provide a peaceful space for the proper judicial process in his case. His lawyer has avoided appearing in the media and the family had hoped that the judge would be able to issue his ruling based on the evidence in the case.
The Campaign considers Derakhshan a prisoner of conscience, prosecuted and sentenced solely for his opinions and writings and calls for Derakhshan's acquittal and release by the appeals court.
Pioneer Iran Blogger Sentenced to 19 Years Prison
AP | Sept 28
Iranian-Canadian Hossein Derakhshan, 35, was a controversial figure among Iran's blogging community. Writing his blog from Canada, he was initially a critic of Iran's clerical leadership, and in 2006 he visited Israel -- Iran's archenemy -- saying he wanted to act as a bridge between the two countries' peoples.
But he later became a vocal supporter of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, praising him for standing up to the West and criticizing regime opponents. Derakhshan then visited Iran in 2008 and was arrested. Over the next two years, he was often held without communication with family or lawyers, according to rights groups.
Mashreghnews.ir, which is close to Iran's presidential office, reported on Tuesday that Derakhshan was convicted on charges of cooperation with hostile countries -- a reference to the Israel visit -- spreading propaganda against the ruling establishment, promotion of counterrevolutionary groups and insulting Islamic thought and religious figures.
Derakhshan helped ignite blogging in Iran by posting simple instructions online on how to create sites in Farsi in 2001. The flourishing of blogs by Iranians at home and abroad that resulted gave the country's reform movement an online platform that has helped it survive heavy crackdowns at home -- though authorities tried to block many, including Derakhshan's.
His later embrace of Ahmadinejad angered many reform bloggers. Before returning to Iran, Derakhshan on his blog dismissed worries he could be arrested for his previous writings.