On December 30, 2008, a spokesman for the judiciary confirmed at a press conference in Tehran that Derakhshan, a well-known Iranian-Canadian blogger, had been detained in November 2008 in connection with comments he allegedly made about a key cleric, according to news reports. The exact date of Derakhshan’s arrest is unknown, but word of his detention was first reported on November 17, 2008, by Jahan News, a website close to the Iranian intelligence service that claimed the journalist had confessed to “spying for Israel” during a preliminary interrogation.
Known as the “Blogfather” for his pioneering online work, Derakhshan started blogging after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. A former writer for reformist newspapers, he also contributed opinion pieces to the Guardian of London and The New York Times. The journalist, who lived in Canada during most of the decade prior to his detention, had returned to Tehran a few weeks before his arrest, The Washington Post reported.
In September 2010, the government announced that Derakhshan had been sentenced to 19 and a half years in prison, along with a five-year ban on “membership in political parties and activities in the media,” according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and other reports.
Derakhshan spent much of his early imprisonment in solitary confinement at Evin Prison, according to multiple sources. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, citing a source close to the journalist’s family, said Derakhshan had been beaten and coerced into making false confessions about having ties to U.S. and Israeli intelligence services. He has been allowed short-term furloughs in recent years.