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Canadian-Iranian journalist Hossein Derakhshan has been sentenced to nineteen and a half years in prison for crimes relating to his blog.

Derakhshan, who has been in prison awaiting trial for two years, was found guilty of blasphemy offences, propaganda against the Islamic Republic and collaborating with foreign governments, Al-Jazeera reports.

Derakhshan studied in Canada and was described as the godfather (or blogfather) of Iranian blogging. He wrote a Persian-language guide to setting up a blog alongside his own writing at hoder.com, currently unavailable.

After an early career writing for reformist newspapers in Iran he went on to study in Toronto and at SOAS in London.

He was allowed to return to Iran by the High Council of Iranian Affairs Abroad in 2008. According to his mother he was in discussions with the regime's Press TV for a job. He used Press TV offices for internet access.

His attitude to President Ahmadinejad also appeared to have softened. He wrote in favour of Iran building its own nuclear weapons, in order to fend off attack by the US or Israel, but also advocated better relations between the country and the west.

Derakhshan was sentenced to nineteen and half years in prison, a five-year ban on party membership or appearing in the media and a hefty fine.

His mother was interviewed by an Iranian blog before Derakhshan was sentenced.

She asked: "I want to ask why are they making an example of Hossein rather than making a role model of him? He is someone who repented and returned to serve his country and is ready to criticize his past thoughts and actions. Are you making an example to prove to people that repenting is useless?" ®

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