Mr. Bahram Ghasemi
Chargé d'Affaires of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Canada
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Canada
245 Metcalfe Street
March 6, 2009
Dear Mr. Ghasemi,
I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.
In the spirit of the coming New Year on March 20, a time of forgiveness and rebirth, CJFE calls for the release of Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan, also known as "Hoder," who has been held in Iran at an unknown location since November 1, 2008.
Derakhshan, known as the 'blogfather' in Iran for his work as a pioneer in Iran's blogging movement, was arrested in Tehran shortly after his return to Iran from years of work in Toronto and London. No official announcement was made by the government of Iran on his detention until December 30, 2008, when judiciary officials confirmed they were holding Derakhshan but did not specify the charges against him.
It has been reported by local media that Derakhshan was arrested on suspicion of espionage for the state of Israel. Derakhshan, who holds both Canadian and Iranian citizenships, had travelled on at least two occasions to Israel on his Canadian passport; Iranians are forbidden to travel to Israel.
It has also been suggested that Derakhshan may have been detained because of his blogs. His online diaries have been critical of the Iranian authorities.
CJFE calls on the government of Iran to immediately and unconditionally release Hossein Derakhshan and drop all charges against him.
We thank you for your attention and look forward to your reply.
Arnold Amber, President
CC: The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Michel de Salaberry, Chargé d'Affaires of Canada to the Islamic Republic of Iran