A prominent Iranian blogger, nicknamed the Blogfather for spawning Iran’s spectacular blogging revolution, has been arrested in Tehran and accused of spying for Israel.
Hossein Derakhshan, who was last based in London after spending several years in Canada, returned to live in his homeland a few weeks ago.
He wrote that he "LOVES living in Tehran again" in his most recent posting nearly a month ago. He was “frustrated by slow Internet connection, but generally impressed."
Traveling on a Canadian passport, he made a highly publicized trip to Israel in 2006 on a mission to show his "20,000 daily Iranian readers what Israel really looks like and how people live there." He also wanted to “humanize” Iranians for Israelis.
Derakhshan was acutely aware that his efforts to foster understanding between the two countries that are bitter enemies could jeopardize any return to Iran.
“This might mean that I won’t be able to go back to Iran for a long time, since Iran doesn’t recognize Israel, has no diplomatic relations with it, and apparently considers travelling there illegal,” he wrote. “Too bad, but I don’t care. Fortunately, I am a citizen of Canada and I have the right to visit any country I like.”
Commentators in Israel, however, noted Derakhshan recently had become “vehemently anti-Israel in his blog."
The 33-year-old techno-wizard has had a controversial and often turbulent career. Bitterly disillusioned with the Iranian reformist leaders that he once championed, he recently became a grudging admirer of Iran’s hardline President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In a September entry on his English-language blog he scoffed at The New York Sun for calling for President Ahmadinejad to be kidnapped to scare him off visiting the city for the U.N. General Assembly. “They don’t know how big this man’s balls are,” he wrote.
Yet Iran’s thin-skinned regime apparently remained deeply suspicious. According to Jahan News, a conservative Web site reputedly close to Tehran’s intelligence community, Derakhshan is under interrogation and during initial questioning “admitted” to spying for Israel — a grave offense if charges are pressed. The report, citing “credible sources,” claimed that Derakhshan’s alleged confession included several “intricate points."