Nobel laureate urges Iran to release "Blogfather"

Mon Dec 15, 2008 11:15am EST
 
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LONDON (Reuters) - Iranian Nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi called on Monday for the release of a pioneering Iranian blogger, who is reported to have been arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel.

Hossein Derakhshan, nicknamed "the Blogfather," is credited with launching a blogging revolution in Iran with his Internet diaries, in both English and Farsi, which have in the past been critical of the Tehran government.

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.

Iranian human rights advocate Ebadi, who won the Nobel peace prize in 2003, said she had seen media reports about Derakhshan's arrest.

"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," Ebadi, speaking through an interpreter, told a news conference in London.

Iranian judicial officials, when asked, said they had no information about the case.

Derakhshan, 33, was a journalist in Tehran before moving to Toronto in 2000. He made his name by publishing instructions on how to use blogging software to publish blogs in Farsi, sparking an explosion of blogging in the Iranian language.

Critical of the Tehran government in the past, Derakhshan has recently been more sympathetic to Tehran.

Derakhshan's blog, "Editor: Myself" (www.hoder.com/weblog/), which he launched in 2002, has not been updated since October.   Continued...

 
<p>Iran's Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi poses before an interview with Reuters in her office in Tehran March 16, 2008. REUTERS/Steve Crisp</p>