TEHRAN, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- An activist known as the "blogfather" of Iran has finally been released from prison in his homeland after six years.
Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan has been pardoned by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. He was arrested in 2008 on suspicion of spying for Israel, then sentenced to 19 years for spreading propaganda, insulting Islam and co-operating with hostile powers.
Derakhshan was a journalist in Tehran before he moved to Toronto in 2000 and began writing blogs criticizing the Iranian government. In 2001, he created a blogging software that allowed users to write in Farsi, which ignited the Persian blogosphere and gave Iranians a platform to express their discontent with their government.
"He opened the flood gates for the blogging world," Canada-based human rights activist Maryam Nayeb Yazdi told Toronto's Metro News. "He was writing in Persian and expressing himself and it gave other Iranians the confidence to do the same thing."
It wasn't clear why he was suddenly freed.
"At this point, no one other than Hossein knows exactly what happened," said Nayeb Yazdi.
"I'm free after six years," Derakhshan wrote on his Google+ page. "I thank God. I'm so grateful to Ayatollah Khamenei."