Iran: Blogger Hossein Derakhshan released


RAN 02/09 Update#1    25 November 2014

Hossein_Derakhshan_ICHRI

Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan, known as the ‘Blogfather’, was released from Evin prison on 19 November 2014 after being pardoned by the Supreme Leader. He had been held since 1 November 2008, and was originally sentenced to 19 and a half years in prison, later reduced to 17 years on appeal, after conviction of several national security, obscenity and religious insult charges in connection with his online activism. There is no information regarding the remaining ban on his five-year ban on journalistic activities that he was due to serve at the end of his imprisonment sentence.  PEN International welcomes Derakhshan’s release, and continues to call for any remaining restrictions on him to be lifted. PEN also continues to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all other writers currently detained in Iran in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly, in accordance with Articles 9, 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.

TAKE ACTION: Share on FaceBook, Twitter and other social media

Please send appeals:

  • Welcoming the release of Hossein Derakhshan;
  • Seeking clarification as to whether he remains subject to a ban on practising as a journalist and calling for any such ban to be lifted;
  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all other writers and bloggers currently detained in Iran solely in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly, in accordance with Articles 9, 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.

Appeals to:

Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street — End of Shahid
Keshvar Doust Street,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info_leader@leader.ir
Twitter: @khamenei_ir

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
c/o Public Relations Office
Number 4, 2 Azizi Street intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Hassan Rouhani
Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: media@rouhani.ir
Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir (Persian)

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Iran in your country if possible.

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 31 December 2014. ***

Please inform us of any action you take, and of any responses you receive.

Background

Hossein Derakhshan is a prominent blogger, known as the ‘Blogfather’, who pioneered blogging in Iran with his Internet diaries, and for creating a protocol with instructions on how to participate in blogs in Farsi language. He was arrested from his family home in Tehran on 1 November 2008 shortly after returning to Iran from several years living in Canada and the United Kingdom. Initial reports suggested that he was accused of ‘spying for Israel’, apparently for a highly publicised trip he made to Israel – with whom Iran has no diplomatic relations – in 2006, travelling on a Canadian passport. In September 2010, Derakhshan was sentenced to 19 and a half years in prison for ‘insulting the Holy Sanctities’, ‘conspiring with hostile governments’, ‘spreading propaganda against the Islamic system’, ‘spreading propaganda in favour of counter-revolutionary groups’, and ‘creating and managing obscene websites’. A five-year ban on political and journalistic activities was also imposed, to be served after his release from prison. His sentence was later reduced to 17 years’ imprisonment, but the five-year ban remained.

According to media reports, the blogger was pardoned on his return to prison after a two-week temporary release, on 19 November 2014.

For the previous RAN alert on Hossein Derakhshan’s case, click here.

For further information, please contact Cathy McCann at PEN International, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6ER, Tel.: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, Email: Cathy.McCann@pen-international.org