They call him the “Blogfather,” the man credited with starting the blogging and podcasting revolution in Iran. Last week, Hossein Derakhshan was sentenced to 19.5 years in prison for blogging; a crime I apparently commit every week without any fear or hesitation. This is the longest prison sentence any blogger has ever received.
Born and raised in Tehran, Hossein, a.k.a. Hoder, moved to Toronto in 2000 to study journalism and became a Canadian citizen. In 2001 he created his blog “Sardabir: khodam” which translates to “Editor: Myself.” Written completely in Persian, his blog gained notoriety with content focusing on political reform and democracy in Iran.
Since 2004, the Iranian government has both filtered and blocked his blog. In response, Hoder created another blog, “Stop Censoring Us” dedicated to monitoring Internet censorship in Iran. While in the past Hoder has supported Iran’s nuclear program and the defense of Iran against US attack, he criticized the Islamic Republic, the form of government Iran adopted in 1979, and is a supporter of positive relations with Israel.
In 2008, Hoder unwisely returned to Tehran under the false promise by President Ahmadinejad that he would not face imprisonment. On November 1, Hoder was arrested by the Iranian government and thrown in jail. Until June 2010 Hoder was held in an Iranian detention center without ever having been officially charged with a crime.
At the conclusion of his trial in July 2010, Hoder 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. Rumors of the death penalty surfaced throughout the sentencing process.