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Iranian blogger jailed for 19 years

An Iranian journalist and blogger has been sentenced to almost 20 years in prison and a five-year ban on working in politics or journalism upon his release, after being accused of managing an “obscene website” by Iranian authorities.

Hossein Derakhshan, who has dual citizenship in Iran and Canada and reportedly previously studied in London, was convicted yesterday of “collaborating with hostile governments, committing blasphemy and propaganda against the Islamic Republic, and managing an obscene website”, according to a report by Al Jazeera.

Reporting on the ruling, press freedom group Reporters Without Borders said the sentence was the longest to have ever been made against a blogger in the country.

He is the victim of political rivalry within the government and the case against him was fabricated. We urge President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to intercede personally in order to obtain his release without delay.

Derakhshan defended the Islamic Revolution’s principles, supported Ahmadinejad’s policies and returned to Iran from Canada after being assured by people close to the president that he would not be arrested. Canada and the rest of the international community must press for this harsh sentence to be quashed and for Derakhshan to be freed at once.

Derakhshan can appeal the decision, according to reports. A petition has been launched calling for his release.

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