International PEN condemns the 19.5-year sentence handed down to Iranian-Canadian journalist and blogger Hossein Derakhshan by a Revolutionary Court on September 29, 2010. Derakhshan has been held since November 1, 2008, for comments posted on his blog. PEN believes Hossein Derakhshan has been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to free expression, and is therefore in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory. PEN calls for his immediate and unconditional release, and seeks assurances of his well-being in detention.

Background Information

According to PEN’s information, Hossein Derakhshan was arrested at his family home in Tehran on November 1, 2008, shortly after returning to Iran after spending several years living in Canada and the United Kingdom. The authorities did not officially acknowledge his detention until December 30, 2008. Initial reports suggested that he was accused of "spying for Israel," apparently due to a highly-publicized trip he made to the country—with whom Iran has no diplomatic relations—in 2006, traveling on a Canadian passport. He also faced accusations of "insulting religion" in his blogs. Derakhshan was tried in June 2010, but no verdict was made known until late September 2010, when it was reported by the Farsi news web site Mashreq that he had been convicted on charges of "propagating against the regime, cooperating with hostile states, promoting counter revolutionary groups, insulting Islamic thought and religious figures and managing obscene web sites." He spent the first nine months of his detention in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where he was reportedly tortured.
Nicknamed "the Blogfather," 33-year-old Hossein Derakhshan is known for pioneering blogging in Iran with his Internet diaries, written in both English and Farsi. His blogs have been critical of the Iranian authorities, though more recently have been sympathetic to President Ahmadinejad. Derakhshan is said to be a controversial figure with a turbulent career. The Times Online gives the following background:
Mr. Derakhshan moved to Canada in 2000 with his Iranian-Canadian wife, from who he has since split, after reformist newspapers for which he wrote in Tehran were closed by hardline opponents of the moderate former Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami. From Toronto in 2001 he began blogging in Farsi and English and devised a simple but groundbreaking way to show Persian letters and characters on the Internet—a protocol that enabled Iran to become one of the world’s most prolific blogging nations.
Until his recent move home, Mr. Derakhshan had returned only once to Iran since emigrating. Visiting to cover presidential elections in 2005, he was prevented from leaving the country for a week and interrogated by police. They told him that his blog was addressing too many taboo subjects, and chided him for helping Iranians to skirt Internet censorship. He was allowed to leave after being forced to sign an apology.

Hossein Derakhshan is currently being held at Tehran’s Evin Prison, where conditions are poor and reports of ill-treatment are widespread.

Write A Letter

  • Condemning the harsh prison sentence handed down to journalist and blogger Hossein Derakhshan solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to free expression;
  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Hossein Derakhshan and all those currently detained in Iran in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory;
  • Seeking assurances of his well-being in detention.

Send Your Letter To

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street, Qom
Islamic Republic of Iran

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani
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 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency,
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran
Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: Via Foreign Ministry: +98 21 6 674 790
(mark: "Please forward to H.E. President Ahmadinejad")

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Iran in your country if possible.

Please contact PEN if sending appeals after October 31, 2010: ftw [at]