Iran: PEN welcomes release of blogger Hossein Derakhshan

English PEN joins PEN International in warmly welcoming the recent release of Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan

Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan, known as the ‘Blogfather’, was released from Evin prison on 19 November 2014 . The Iranian authorities have given no reason for his early release, but according to local media reports and the blogger himself he was pardoned by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on returning to prison after a two-week temporary release.

‘I’m free after six years. I thank God. I’m so grateful to Ayatollah Khamenei’

Hossein Derakhshan had been held since 1 November 2008, when he was arrested at his family home in Tehran shortly after returning to Iran from several years living in Canada and the United Kingdom. Initial reports suggested that he was accused of ‘spying for Israel’, apparently for a highly publicised trip he made to Israel in 2006, travelling on a Canadian passport. However, in September 2010, Derakhshan was sentenced to 19 and a half years in prison for ‘insulting the Holy Sanctities’, ‘conspiring with hostile governments’, ‘spreading propaganda against the Islamic system’, ‘spreading propaganda in favour of counter-revolutionary groups’, and ‘creating and managing obscene websites’. A five-year ban on political and journalistic activities was also imposed, to be served after his release from prison. His sentence was later reduced to 17 years’ imprisonment, but the five-year ban remained.

Whilst PEN welcomes Derakhshan’s release, we continue to call for any remaining restrictions on him to be lifted: there has been no information regarding the five-year ban on journalistic activities that he was due to serve at the end of his imprisonment sentence. PEN also continues to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all other writers currently detained in Iran in connection with the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly, in accordance with Articles 9, 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.

TAKE ACTION 

Please send appeals:

  • Welcoming the release of Hossein Derakhshan;
  • Seeking clarification as to whether he remains subject to a five-year ban on political and journalistic activities and calling for any such ban to be lifted;
  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all other writers and bloggers currently detained in Iran solely in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly, in accordance with Articles 9, 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.

Appeals to:

Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street — End of Shahid
Keshvar Doust Street,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info_leader@leader.ir
Twitter: @khamenei_ir

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
c/o Public Relations Office
Number 4, 2 Azizi Street intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Hassan Rouhani
Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: media@rouhani.ir
Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and
@Rouhani_ir (Persian)

Please inform us of any action you take, and of any responses you receive.

[ecampaign to=’info_leader@leader.ir’ subject=’Hossein Derakhshan’]

Your Excellency

I am writing to you as a supporter of English PEN, the international association of writers, to welcome the recent release of blogger Hossein Derakhshan.

According to PEN’s information, Derakhshan was released from Evin prison on 19 November 2014, following his return to prison after a two-week temporary release. While I warmly welcome the news of his release, I am writing to seek clarification as to whether he remains subject to a five-year ban on political and journalistic activities that he was due to serve at the end of his imprisonment sentence, and to call for any such ban to be lifted.

I also join PEN in continuing to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all other writers currently detained in Iran in connection with the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly, in accordance with Articles 9, 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely,

[/ecampaign]

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