Iranian-Canadian 'blogfather' reportedly arrested in Tehran
A well-known Iranian-Canadian credited with leading Iran's blogging boom has been arrested in Tehran and accused of spying for Israel, say reports.
Hossein Derakhshan, dubbed the Blogfather, was arrested Monday, according to Iran's Jahan News Agency.
The 33-year-old Canadian citizen recently moved back to Iran, where he was born. He wrote on his blog last month that he was very happy with his decision to return to Iran, said the London Times newspaper.
There haven't been any postings to his blog or Facebook account since Oct. 30, said the report.
Bloggers are buzzing about the reports, chalking it up to everything from an untrue rumour to a publicity stunt.
Derakhshan, who uses the blog name Hoder, moved to Canada in 2000 with his Iranian-Canadian wife. The pair are now split.
His early Toronto-based blog covered media and internet issues, as well as blogging instructions in Farsi during a time when few Iranians posted blogs. Iran is now one of the world's top blogging nations.
In 2006, he visited Israel on what he said was a mission to improve relations between Israelis and Iranians. He said the visit would show his "20,000 daily Iranian readers what Israel really looks like and how people live there."
During the trip, he acknowledged the visit could jeopardize any chances to return to Iran. He travelled under his Canadian passport, telling reporters he was a Canadian citizen and could travel freely.
Derakhshan's recent blog postings have become more outspoken against what he calls Western attempts to portray Iran as a security threat and supportive of controversial Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"Ahmadinejad's brilliant strategy of dismissing Israel and smiling to the U.S. has divided the U.S. in all levels and that's a big achievement," he wrote in early October.
Israeli media reports have noted "vehemently anti-Israeli" language on the blog, which also contains posts defending Iran's right to have nuclear weapons.