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Hossein Deraskshan Arrested

Posted by vmsalama on November 24, 2008

I received some troubling news today about a friend of mine – journalist and blogger Hossein Derakhshan.  Hossein was arrested in Tehran, allegedly on charges of spying for the Israeli government.  Last week he was detained in Tehran, and Jahan News, an Iranian Pres Agency, put out news that he had ‘confessed’ to spying for Israel. No one has heard from his since, and his blog has not been updated for weeks.

Hossein had a very highly publicized trip to Israel a few years back which he not only blogged about (with video) and which was also highly covered in the Israeli media.  He’s been studying in Canada and then London for several years now and was returning home to live with his family. I spoke to him a few weeks ago and he was really thrilled to be returning home.

I wrote an article about Hossein a few years ago — that is how we met and have since become friends.  Here is my article, which illustrates his last run in with the Iranian authorities:

Arab and Iranian Bloggers: Emerging Threat to Official Line

 I suspect he is in a lot of trouble.  Charges like this are no joke in Iran, as the article below indicates.

Iran Executes Man in Spy Case, and Blogger’s Arrest Is Reported

Published: November 22, 2008
TEHRAN — Iran has executed a man convicted of spying for Israel, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported Saturday.

The agency reported that Ali Ashtari was executed by hanging on Monday. It said he was arrested in 2006 and confessed during his trial in June to spying for Israel through security and telecommunication equipment.

Iranian news media reported in June that Mr. Ashtari, 45, had received a death sentence for spying. At the time, newspapers said he had been the manager of a company selling communication and security equipment to the Iranian government.

An Israeli official said in June that Israel had no knowledge of his case.

Tension between Iran and Israel has escalated in recent months over Iran’s nuclear program. Israel has not ruled out launching a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran does not recognize Israel as a state and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has spoken of Israel with hostility since his election in 2005.

A Web site affiliated with the Iranian Intelligence Ministry has reported that a high-profile blogger, Hossein Derakhshan, was also arrested this month and accused of spying for Israel. Judiciary officials have not confirmed his arrest but the Web site, Jahan News, reported that he had confessed to spying for Israel.

Mr. Derakhshan, an Iranian-Canadian, had lived in Canada since 2000 but moved back to Tehran a few weeks ago. He traveled to Israel in 2007 and wrote about it on his blog.

Abraham Rabinovich, an Israeli journalist who interviewed Mr. Derakhshan in Jerusalem two years ago, described him in an op-ed article for The International Herald Tribune on Friday as an “Iranian patriot” who through his blog “offered the first views of ordinary life in Israel that Iranians had been able to see.”

Mr. Rabinovich quoted Mr. Derakhshan as saying: “I want to humanize Israel for Iranians and tell them it’s not what the Islamic propaganda machine is saying, that Israelis are thirsty for Muslim blood. And I want to show Israel that the average Iranian isn’t even thinking about doing harm to Israel.”


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