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Media Watchdog Criticizes Trial of Iranian 'Blogfather'

Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan

Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has criticized the trial of a controversial Iranian blogger, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

The trial of Hossein Derakhshan, known as the "Blogfather" for helping to popularize blogging in Iran, began on June 23.

RSF spokesman Reza Mooeni told RFE/RL on June 24 that Derakhshan faces charges of "conspiracy" and "acting against national security." But he said the "true nature of the charges" against Derakhshan remain unclear.

"The contents on his blog and in other media outlets during the past two years, practically speaking, did not impose a danger to the Islamic republic and its government," Mooeni said.

Mooeni said Derakhshan was put on trial only because of his blogging activity. He told RFE/RL that Derakhshan "was one of the few [Iranian writers] that would write whatever [he] discovered under his actual name."

Mooeni said Derakhshan's lawyer has not had access to his client, which he said is common with Iranian lawyers who defend journalists and bloggers.

Mooeni said Derakhshan, who also has Canadian citizenship, would benefit from assertive Canadian advocacy on his behalf. He said that while Iran does not recognize dual nationality, Canada has taken steps to support Derakhshan.

Derakhshan has been in jail since November 2008.