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Trial Of Iran's 'Blogfather' Begins, 20 Months After His Arrest

By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL

Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan

Iran's hard-line Fars news agency reports that the trial of controversial blogger Hossein Derakhshan, known as Iran's "Blogfather" for helping to popularize blogging in the Islamic republic, began in Tehran on June 23.

Derakhshan has been in jail since November 2008.

According to Fars, the charges against Derakhshan include working with "hostile" governments, propaganda against the Islamic establishment, propaganda in favor of antirevolutionary groups, insulting religious sanctities, and launching and managing "obscene" websites.

Writing on the recently launched Justice For Hossein Derakhshan blog, Derakhshan's sister says her parents were not allowed in the courtroom during the June 23 trial session, during which Fars says Derakhshan's indictment was read.

Derakhshan's family has been using the new blog to post the latest news about him, including letters they've sent to officials calling for his release, as well as posts by friends and supporters.

Derakhshan's sister writes in the blog that the family is very worried over his fate.

"Some media have republished some of Hossein's old writings, for which he has expressed regret and apologized," she writes. "I don't understand what their aim is."

A number of Iranian bloggers have been jailed in recent years.

Copyright (c) 2010 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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