Hossein Derakhshan, Iranian-Canadian blogger

After months of anticipation and almost two years after his arrest and imprisonment, blogger Hossein Derakhshan was sentenced to 19.5 years in prison by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Courts today. News of the stiff sentence was first published by Mashreq website. A source close to the family of Hossein Derakhshan confirmed the news for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, adding that Derakhshan’s family are shocked by the news.  ”Neither the family nor the lawyer knew about the sentence, they read the news online.” The conservative website referred to Hossein Derakhshan as an “anti-revolutionary blogger.”

“According to the sentence issued today by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Courts with Judge Salavati presiding, Derakhshan who was arrested in October 2008, has been charged with ‘cooperation with hostile states, propagating against the regime, propagation in favor of anti-revolutionary groups, insulting sanctities, and implementation and management of obscene websites,’ and sentenced to 19.5 years in prison, five years’ ban from membership in political parties and activities in the media; and returning received funds in the amount of 30,750 Euro, US$2,900, and 200 British Pounds,” reported the Mashreq website.

According to the source referenced in the Mashreq article, Derakhshan or his lawyer Mahdavi can appeal the ruling. Hossein Derakhshan’s family have tried to avoid speaking to the media during the months after his arrest, hoping to provide a peaceful space for the proper judicial process in his case. His lawyer has avoided appearing in the media and the family had hoped that the judge would be able to issue his ruling based on the evidence in the case.

The Campaign considers Derakhshan a prisoner of conscience, prosecuted and sentenced solely for his opinions and writings and calls for Derakhshan’s acquittal and release by the appeals court. The Campaign also notes that over 500 prisoners of conscience are languishing in Iranian jails and should be all released.