Via The Globe and Mail: Canadian-Iranian blogger sentenced to 19 years in prison. Excerpt:
An Iranian court sentenced the founder of one of the first Farsi-language blogs, credited with sparking the boom in Iranian reform bloggers, to more than 19 years in prison for his writings, a website reported Tuesday.
Iranian-Canadian Hossein Derakhshan, 35, was a controversial figure among Iran's blogging community. Writing his blog from Canada, he was initially a critic of Iran's clerical leadership, and in 2006 he visited Israel — Iran's archenemy — saying he wanted to act as a bridge between the two countries' peoples.
But he later became a vocal supporter of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, praising him for standing up to the West and criticizing regime opponents.
Mr. Derakhshan then visited Iran in 2008 and was arrested. Over the next two years, he was often held without communication with family or lawyers, according to rights groups.
Mashreghnews.ir, which is close to Iran's presidential office, reported Tuesday that Mr. Derakhshan was convicted on charges of co-operation with hostile countries — a reference to the Israel visit — spreading propaganda against the ruling establishment, promotion of counterrevolutionary groups and insulting Islamic thought and religious figures.
The court sentenced him to 19 1/2 years in prison, the report said, adding that Mr. Derakhshan can appeal. It was unclear if he would benefit from time served.
Mr. Derakhshan helped ignite blogging in Iran by posting simple instructions online on how to create sites in Farsi in 2001.
The flourishing of blogs by Iranians at home and abroad that resulted gave the country's reform movement an online platform that has helped it survive heavy crackdowns at home — though authorities tried to block many, including Mr. Derakhshan's.
The Globe also has an editorial about this sorry affair.