December 15, 2008
Nobel Prize Winner Calls for Release of ‘Blogfather’ from Iranian Prison
Iranian Nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi called on Monday for the release of an Iranian blogger who was arrested for spying on Israel.
Hossein Derakhshan, or the "Blogfather," is a former journalist who visited Israel and wrote about his experiences on his Farsi blog. He said he hoped his reporting would show residents of both nations the basic human element of each side. However, in doing so, he defied President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government.
"I want to humanize Israel for Iranians and tell them it's not what the Islamic propaganda machine is saying - that Israelis are thirsty for Muslim blood," he said. "And I want to show Israel that the average Iranian isn't even thinking about doing harm to Israel. I want them to see Iranians who don't look like Ahmadinejad."
Canadian news reports have quoted a friend of Derakhshan, who is Iranian-Canadian, as saying he was arrested on November 1 during a visit to Iran. Other reports say he has been charged with spying for Israel.
Now, human rights advocate Ebadi is calling for his release.
"All I can say is that I very much hope that he will be released soon, because prison is not the place for journalists and for bloggers," said Ebadi, who won the Nobel peace prize in 2003.
The 33-year-old blogger was a journalist in Tehran before moving to Toronto in 2000. He is credited with showing other Iranians how to create and publish their own blogs.
Derakhshan's blog, "Editor: Myself", which he launched in 2002, has not been updated since October.
Derakhshan visited Israel in 2006. Shortly before flying to Tel Aviv, he wrote in his blog: "This might mean that I won't be able to go back to Iran for a long time, since Iran doesn't recognize Israel, has no diplomatic relations with it, and apparently considers traveling there illegal.
"Too bad, but I don't care. Fortunately, I'm a citizen of Canada and I have the right to visit any country I want."
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