Good news: Iran frees Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan after six years in prison
On November 19, Iran freed Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan after six years in prison. Amnesty International supporters had called for his release since his unfair trial.
Five plain-clothed officers arrested Hossein Derakhshan at his family home in November 2008 during a visit to Iran. Although a dual Canadian-Iranian national, Derakhshan was not permitted to receive help from Canadian embassy officials in Iran.
He was detained before his trial for approximately 19 months. The authorities stopped him from having regular contact with family or legal representation during this time. His trial began in June 2010, and in September 2010, he was sentenced to 19 and a half years’ imprisonment on vaguely worded charges relating to national security.
Amnesty International believed that Hossein Derakhshan was likely targeted for the peaceful expression of his views in relation to his blogging. Amnesty International called for his immediate and unconditional release if he had been prosecuted for exercising his right to freedom of expression.
Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action Appeal on his behalf, and Amnesty supporters in Canada and around the world wrote to the Iranian authorities. Urgent Action letter-writers expressed concern about the fairness of his trial and called for Derakhshan’s release if it was the case that he was imprisoned for the peaceful expression of his views.
Hossein Derakhshan is a pioneering blogger in Iran. His blogs shared his views about reform in Iran and his many trips to different countries, including Israel, which under Iranian law, is a crime for Iranians to visit.
Derakhshan wrote his blog mostly from outside Iran, and is credited with helping to spark a surge in blogging on reform issues in Iran by posting simple instructions in Persian on how to set up a site and begin writing online comments.