Hossein Derakhshan

Jailed Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan, who is sentenced to more than 19 years in prison, has been temporarily released.

The Mashregh website reported: “The furlough was given to Derakhshan during Fatemieh [a religious occasion of mourning], and he even attended a number of mourning ceremonies in a black shirt. This is despite the fact that one of the charges against him is insulting sanctities.”

Derakhshan was given a temporary leave last December on a $1.5-million bail following 26 months in jail. He had been arrested two years earlier upon returning to Iran.

“Collaboration with enemy governments, propaganda against the Islamic regime and for anti-Revolutionary groups, insulting sanctities, launching and managing obscene websites” were the charges brought against Derakhshan by the Revolutionary court. Along with his 19.5-year prison sentence, he was banned from media activities and joining social groups for five years and he is required to return funds he had received from various organizations.

Derakhshan’s lawyer has appealed the sentence, and so far the ruling of the appellate court has not been announced. Reporters Without Borders has condemned what it has called the harshest sentence for any Iranian blogger.

Derakhshan started as an anti-Islamic Republic blogger outside Iran but gradually became a supporter of the Ahmadinejad government and the establishment.

Previously, a member of Derakhshan’s family had informed the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that he had been held in solitary confinement for about ten months and was under pressure to confess to being an agent for the CIA and Mossad.