Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Another Iranian blogger is in detention

Iranian judiciary confirmed on 30 December the detention of Hossein Derakhshan, Iranian-Canadian blogger. His charges are related to insulting Islam’s religious figures.

This move is only the latest in a series of government attempts to tighten the grip on nearly 400,000 active bloggers in the country. (According to Open Net Initiative country report, 400,000 blogs are active and 7 million access the Internet in Iran.)

A bill, which overwhelmingly passed in the Iranian Parliament on its first reading in July 2008, further tightens the squeeze on bloggers. It applies the death penalty to web crimes that threaten “society’s moral security.” These are activities promoting prostitution, corruption or apostasy.

Tala Dowlatshahi, Reporters Without Borders Director – New York: “It is a bill simply put in place to alert the media and other members of civil society that blogging and sending out information, that it is not going to tolerate anybody going against the government’s line.”

Also Tehran’s Prosecutor-General Saeed Mortazavi announced on December 10 the formation of a special prosecutor’s department for Internet crimes that monitor online content and impose penalties for Internet offenses.

By the end of 2008 more bloggers were behind bars. According to RSF, Esmail Jafari of Bushehr was sentenced on charges of “anti-government propaganda” and “disseminating information abroad.” Additionally, the editor of the Azar Zan blog, Shahnaz Gholami, has been imprisoned since November 9 in the northwestern city of Tabriz. And in October, Mojtaba Lotfi from Qom ended up in prison.

In Iran nearly 1000 blogs are blocked every month. They’re all required by law to provide their contact and web content information for the government to monitor otherwise, their blogs and their Internet Service Providers are suspended and they face criminal charges.

Hat tips IranVNC