On December 30, 2008, a spokesman for the
Iranian Judiciary confirmed in a press conference in Tehran that Hossein Derakhshan, an Iranian-Canadian
blogger, had been detained since November 2008, in connection with comments he allegedly
made about a key cleric, according to local and international news reports.
Judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi said Derakhshan was in
investigative custody at a Revolutionary
Court. He did not disclose precise charges against
The exact date of Derakhshan's arrest is unknown, but news of
his detention first appeared on November 17 on Jahan News, a news Web site
that according to international media reports is close to the Iranian
intelligence apparatus. At the time, Jahan News reported that Derakhshan
had confessed "spying for Israel"
during the preliminary interrogation.
Derakhshan, who holds dual
citizenship in Iran and Canada, started blogging after the September 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks on the United States. A former writer for reformist
newspapers, Derakhshan also contributed opinion pieces to The Guardian
of London and The
New York Times.
Derakhshan visited Israel
twice in the last three years as part of an effort to "humanize" Israel
for Iranian readers, The Jerusalem
Post reported. He traveled
on his Canadian passport, news reports said.
Derakhshan, who lived in Canada
during most of this decade, returned to Tehran
a few weeks prior to his detention, David Ignatius of The Washington Post reported.
Once a critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Derakhshan
had recently become supportive of the administration. "Ahmadinejad's brilliant
strategy of dismissing Israel
and smiling to the U.S. has
divided the U.S.
in all levels and that's a big achievement," he wrote in an October 6 posting
to his blog.