January 28, 2009

His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi

Head of the Judiciary
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh
Office of the Head of the Judiciary
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 1316814737
Islamic Republic of Iran

His Excellency Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie
Minister of Intelligence
Ministry of Intelligence
Second Negarestan Street
Pasdaran Avenue
Islamic Republic of Iran

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,300 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our concern regarding the detention of Iranian-Canadian journalist and blogger Hossein Derakhshan.

According to our information, Hossein Derakhshan was apprehended in Tehran on November 1, 2008, having just returned to Iran after living for several years in Canada and the United Kingdom. The Iranian government did not officially recognize Mr. Derakhshan’s arrest until December 30, 2008, and he is being held incommunicado at an unknown location. Initial reports suggest that he was originally accused of “spying for Israel” due to a highly publicized trip he made there in 2006, traveling on a Canadian passport. His stated mission on the trip was to create human connections between Iranians and Israelis. Mr. Derakhshan may also have been detained for reportedly “insulting religion” on his blogs, which are written in both Farsi and English. There is mounting international concern for his well-being.

PEN American Center is seriously alarmed that Hossein Derakhshan is among a growing number of writers and journalists being targeted during an apparent crackdown on dissent in recent weeks, which we consider to be in breach of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory. We therefore seek assurance of his well-being, and demand his immediate and unconditional release, as nwell as the release of all other writers detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

Cc: His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Islamic Republic of Iran

His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection
Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: Via Foreign Ministry: +98 21 6 674 790

H.E. Mr. Mohammad Khazaee
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 867-7086

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