Ethan Zuckerman’s online home, since 2003

Free Hoder?

An Iranian website is reporting that Hossein Derakshan – “Hoder” – is under arrest for susicion of espionage on behalf of the state of Israel. This is likely a result of a trip Hossein made to Israel in 2006, travelling on a Canadian passport. At that point in his career, Hossein’s blog was strongly aligned with Iranian reformers, and he was interested in getting a picture of Israel, a state that most Iranians can’t travel to. In recent years, his writings have become highly critical of the US and Israel and strongly pro-regime. As friends who’ve reported on Hossein’s situation have noted, this shift in perspective has confused and distanced some of his earlier supporters.

There’s skepticism within the Global Voices community about Hossein’s arrest. Our Persian-language editor, Hamid Tehrani, has expressed concern about the credibility of the website reporting Hossein’s arrest. Sami Ben Gharbia, in posting about the arrest on the Global Voices Advocacy site, put “arrest” in quotation marks. Both Hamid and Sami are reading Persian-language sources, trying to get a better sense for what’s actually going on. It doesn’t make a tremendous amount of sense to me that a blogger who’s become a major supporter of the Iranian government would be arrested for previous travels and writings, but as I mentioned, we’re all trying to get more details and understand what’s going on.

If Hossein is being detained based on his trip to Israel and on absurd allegations of spying, this is a major injustice, not to mention a phenomenally stupid action by Iranian authorities. I hope we will get news shortly that Hossein was questioned and released, or that the report was inaccurate, but I know that bloggers – including those who vehemently disagree with his recent writing – will rally to his support.

The Times of London offers a backgrounder on Hossein, but isn’t able to confirm his arrest beyond the Jahan News report, which it describes as “a conservative website reputedly close to Tehran’s intelligence community”.

One Response to “Free Hoder?”

  1. Andy Carvin says:

    We’ve been trying to confirm his arrest, but when we contacted Iran’s permanent mission, a spokesman there said he had no information on the incident. Pretty much every news story I’ve seen has just referenced Jahan News, though this blog in Farsi apparently tried to contact his family, who say he’s not home and won’t say if he’s being detained or not. (An Iranian colleague of mine gave the post a quick read, but I don’t have a transcript, so it might warrant further translation.)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Global Voices Advocacy » Update on Hoder - [...] recent days some sites and blogs wrote that Hossein Derakhshan, Hoder, was arrested. All refer to two things to …
  2. Global Voices auf Deutsche » Hoder Update - [...] den letzten Tagen schrieben einige Seiten und Blogs das Hossein Derakhshan (Hoder) verhaftet worden ist. Alle beziehen sich auf …
  3. Jillian C. York - [...] Yet other sources have kept the story in quotes: Toronto’s Globe and Mail (which I spoke to regarding the …
  4. Readers Edition » Hoder Update - [...] den letzten Tagen schrieben einige Seiten und Blogs, dass Hossein Derakhshan (Hoder) verhaftet worden ist. Alle beziehen sich auf …
  5. It begins: Joining the 21st Century of Social Networking… : Mixed Farmin’ - [...] http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2008/11/19/free-hoder/ [...]
  6. …My heart’s in Accra » Hossein Derakhshan, now detained for over a year - [...] written about Hossein’s detention previously – it’s a complicated topic, as Hoder’s a complicated guy, and [...]
  7. Hossein Derakhshan, Now Detained for Over a Year | test title - [...] written about Hossein’s detention previously – it’s a complicated topic, as Hoder’s a complicated guy, and [...]
  8. …My heart’s in Accra » Background on Dickey’s “The Blogfather and the Spy” - [...] has been in custody in Iran for over a year – I’ve written about his detention on the blog …

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