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Prosecutor Reportedly Asks For Execution of Iran's "Blogfather"

By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL

An informed source who does not want to be named has confirmed in an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Farda that Tehran's prosecutor has asked for the death sentence for jailed blogger Hossein Derakhshan, known by his nickname Hoder and also as Iran's "Blogfather."

Hossein Derakhshan

The judge in the case has reportedly not issued a sentence yet.

Rumors about the likelihood of a death sentence against Derakhshan, who has been in jail for more than a year, were reported earlier this week by some Iranian news websites bases outside the country.

Derakhshan's family has not publicly commented on the latest news about his case, which has led to concern among Iranian bloggers and rights activists. 

The hard-line Fars news agency has reported that Derakhshan is facing a number of charges, including working with "hostile" governments, propaganda against the Islamic establishment, propaganda in favor of antirevolutionary groups, and insulting religious sanctities.

Derakhshan, a controversial blogger who holds dual Iranian and Canadian citizenships, was arrested in November 2008 shortly after returning to Iran from London, where he had been studying.

Derakhshan is credited with popularizing blogging in the Islamic republic. 

UPDATE: Derakshan's mother has told the "Kamtarin" website in an interview that the prosecutor called for the "maximum penalty" for her son.

"Regarding the ruling of the judge, we can't do anything but pray as no one but God knows what the future will bring. The prosecutor has called for the maximum penalty to punish Hossein and also to give a lesson to others," she is quoted as saying.

Her statements mark the first time a family member has publicly confirmed reports that Derakhshan could face the death penalty.

Derakhshan's mother said he had returned to Iran after an assurance from a group she described as the "Council of Iranians Abroad" that he would not face any problems.

"He had coordinated with this council, which is in contact with the Intelligence Ministry. So even though Hossein expected that he would be contacted for questioning, he didn't expect to be arrested like this and he hadn't told us what to do in the event of his arrest."

She also said that Derakhshan seems depressed and "very tired" of loneliness and two years of limbo.

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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