CJFE celebrates the release of Iranian-Canadian Blogfather Hossein Derakhshan

Friday, November 21, 2014
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Friday, November 21, 2014
By Alexandra Zakreski Yesterday it was reported that Iranian-Canadian “Blogfather” Hossein Derakhshan has been released from Evin prison, and is now at home in Tehran. According to a message from an unnamed family member, Derakhshan was pardoned and released by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday, November 19. Derakhshan does not currently have plans to return to Canada and it is unclear whether he will still be forced to comply with the five-year ban on political and journalistic activities that he was scheduled to serve upon his release. Derakhshan was arrested in November 2008, for a visit to Israel made two years prior and for his blogging activities. He is popularly referred to as the “Blogfather,” for his seminal role in making social media and blogging accessible to Iranians. In his blog, “Editor: Myself,” he was highly critical of the regime in Iran and its authoritarian grip on its citizens. After being held incommunicado for almost two years, Derakhshan was eventually charged and convicted of “insulting religious leaders, cooperating with hostile states and spreading propaganda against the regime.” His original sentence of 19.5 years in prison was later reduced to 17 years, still making it one of the longest sentences ever applied to a blogger in Iran. More background on Derakhshan’s case can be found in CJFE’s 2010/2011 Review of Free Expression in Canada. Last month CJFE marked the fourth anniversary of Derakhshan’s sentencing, expecting that he would be forced to serve out the remaining 13 years of his 17 sentence. CJFE welcomes this unexpected development, and urges the Iranian government to free the countless other political prisoners detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression and opinion.
Alexandra Zakreski is CJFE’s International Programs Coordinator

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