Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the extremely long jail sentence that has just been passed on Iranian blogger and journalist Hossein Derakhshan. He has been sentenced to 19 and a half years in prison followed by a five-year ban on political and journalistic activities. He has also been fined the equivalent of more than 30,000 euros.
“Such a long jail term has never before been imposed on a blogger in Iran and is indicative of a desire to make an example out of Derakhshan,” Reporters Without Borders said. “He is the victim of political rivalry within the government and the case against him was fabricated. We urge President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to intercede personally in order to obtain his release without delay.”
The press freedom organisation added: “Derakhshan defended the Islamic Revolution’s principles, supported Ahmadinejad’s policies and returned to Iran from Canada after being assured by people close to the president that he would not be arrested. Canada and the rest of the international community must press for this harsh sentence to be quashed and for Derakhshan to be freed at once.”
Derakhshan’s partner, Sandrine Murcia, said the judge in charge of the case telephoned the family today to confirm the verdict and sentence, details of which had been published on the pro-government website Asriran.
Derakhshan was convicted of collaborating with enemy states, propaganda against the Islamic Republic, propaganda in support of counter-revolutionary groups, “insulting what is holy” and creating immoral websites. He can appeal against the verdict.
Arrested by Revolutionary Guards on 1 November 2008, Derakhshan was given a trial without due process and had remained in detention even since awaiting the court’s verdict. He is a collateral victim of in-fighting between the Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian intelligence services.
Sign the petition for his release: www.freetheblogfather.org