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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Ayatollah Khamenei Frees Iran Blogger



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Iran leader releases Hossein Derakhshan, suspected of spying for Israel and given prison term of 19 years for ‘insulting Islam’

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, on Thursday pardoned the blogger Hossein Derakhshan after his six years in prison for spreading propaganda, insulting Islam and cooperating with hostile countries, Iranian media reported.

Iranian bloggers credit Derakhshan, an Iranian-Canadian journalist who lived in Tehran before moving to Toronto in 2000, with launching a blogging revolution in the Islamic republic by publishing instructions on the subject in Farsi. No reason was given for his release.

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“I’m free after six years,” he wrote on his Google Plus page on Thursday. “I thank God. I’m so grateful to Ayatollah Khamenei.”

Derakhshan was imprisoned in 2008 in Tehran on suspicion of spying for Israel and sentenced in 2010 to more than 19 years in prison, Iranian media said. He had published material criticising the Tehran government and visited Israel in 2006. Iran does not recognise Israel, and Iranians are banned from going there.

At the start of this year Khamenei pardoned or shortened the sentences of thousands of prisoners, mostly those in jail for crimes such as robbery, in what he said was an amnesty to mark first the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed and then, in March, the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, perhaps wary of antagonising powerful hardliners sceptical of his rapprochement with the west over Iran’s nuclear programme, has not made significant policy changes on political freedom. But, months after his landslide election victory last summer about 80 political prisoners were freed. In 2013 Iran executed more people relative to its population size than any other country, rights activists claim.

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