Report: Iranian blogger arrested

Nov. 18, 2008 at 1:28 PM
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TEHRAN, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- An Iranian blogger, who had visited Israel advocating improved relations, was arrested in Tehran and has admitted to spying, an Iranian Web site says.

Jahan News, a Web site with ties to Iran hard-liners in the country' intelligence community, reported that blogger Hossein Derakhshan was arrested in Tehran and has admitted to carrying out espionage for Israel, The Jerusalem Post said Tuesday.

Derakhshan had visited Israel at least twice in recent years and had been interviewed by the Post, telling it he wanted to "humanize" Israel for his Iranian readers. Middle East political analyst Meir Javedanfar said Derakhshan had been based in Canada before returning to Iran three weeks ago.

"Prior to his return," the Post quoted Javedanfar as writing on his Web site, Derakhshan had "started attacking (former Iranian President) Ayatollah (Hashemi) Rafsanjani in his blog. It is possible that he fell foul of a power struggle within Iran."

The Post said Derakhshan, 33, is credited with having popularized the concept of the Weblog in Iran. He told the newspaper during a 2006 visit to Israel that he realized he might never be able to return to his homeland, but added, "It's worth it."

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