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Short-term freedom

December 9, 2010

Hossein Derakhshan has been granted a few days out of jail after spending over two years in an Iranian prison. A two-time DW Best of the Blogs jury member, his family put up $1.5 million worth of bail for his freedom.

Hossein Derakhshan
Derakhshan was sentenced to 19.5 years in prisonImage: DW

Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan was temporarily released from a Tehran prison, after having been incarcerated for 26 months, according to a report Thursday on Mashregh News, a conservative Iranian news website.

The site was among the first to report Derakhshan's conviction at the end of September on charges of "conspiring with hostile governments, disseminating anti-Islamic propaganda, disseminating anti-revolutionary propaganda, blasphemy, and operating and managing obscene pornography websites."

The account was confirmed by a source close to the Derakhshan family, who wished to remain anonymous and said Derakhshan was "happy to be out," adding "we have been pushing for this for months, especially after his trial, but it has always been refused."

The same source also told Deutsche Welle that Derakhshan "will be out for a couple of days only," and that the family had put up a bail with a value of $1.5 million (1.3 million euros) to ensure Derakhshan returns to prison when demanded by authorities.

Iranian 'blogfather' began writing online in 2001

Hoder, as he became known, began blogging in Persian and English in 2001
Hoder, as he became known, began blogging in Persian and English in 2001

Derakhshan became well-known beginning in 2001, primarily for having published a Persian-language guide to blogging. As he continued to blog in Persian and English, he was soon after widely interviewed in western media outlets, where he was dubbed Iran's "blogfather."

In 2005 and 2006, he served as a jury member in Deutsche Welle's blog awards, also known as the BOBs.

Initially, Derakhshan, who was also known by his online moniker Hoder, spoke out against the Iranian government on his blog. In January 2006, he took a highly publicized trip to Israel, traveling on his Canadian passport, as it is normally forbidden for Iranians to travel to Israel.

Several months later his political views shifted, and he became a staunch Iranian nationalist in the face of perceived opposition and heated rhetoric from the United States, saying that he supported Iran's right to nuclear weapons.

On his Persian blog especially, he lashed out at other Iranians - many of whom had previously been his friends, peers and colleagues. Mehdi Khaliji, an Iranian working for a conservative Washington, D.C. think tank, even filed a libel suit against Derakhshan in 2007 for statements written on Derakhshan's blog.

In the autumn of 2008, Derakhshan returned to Iran after having lived for many years in Canada, France and the United Kingdom. He was arrested on November 1, 2008.

After a short trial in Tehran this summer, Derakhshan was sentenced in late September to serve 19.5 years in prison, and was banned for five years from joining any Iranian political party. He was also ordered to pay fines of 30,750 euros, $2,900 and 200 British pounds.

Author: Cyrus Farivar

Editor: Sean Sinico