Armin Rosen writes at Reason about Hossein Derakhshan, the Iranian-Canadian blogging pioneer whose long prison sentence I noted last month. Why did Derakhshan think it would be safe for him to travel to Iran to visit his family? Rosen notes speculation — and some evidence — that the Iranian government lured him there:
No one knows why Derakhshan went back to Iran, but it’s been credibly suggested that he was offered a job with Press TV, Iran’s government-owned satellite news network. If this is true, then it’s possible that some faction of the Iranian government played a role in convincing him to return to the country. Nir Boms of Cyberdissidents.org speculated that the government lured Derakhshan back to Iran in order to pump him for infomation about the Iranian opposition’s web network. “If you are a known political activist and someone who holds the key to many of the opposition blogs, who know some passwords to many of their websites, you are an asset to the regime, no doubt,” says Boms. Boms added that there’s some proof that the Iranian government promised not to hassle or arrest Derakhshan if he returned to the country, further suggesting an effort by regime hardliners to entrap one of the world’s most important Persian-language bloggers. “It seemed before he returned he received some assurances from Iran that nothing bad would happen to him,” he says. “The Council for Iranians Abroad seem to have given him indication that he wouldn’t have problems with the government.”
That’s a stark reminder that promises from this regime are meaningless. It’s safe for a prominent blogger to visit Iran in the same way that the Iranian nuclear program is intended purely for peaceful purposes.
Rosen goes on to note the muted response of the Canadian government (Derakhshan holds dual citizenship). “The Iranian government’s international campaign against its opposition is a terrifying development, and should be a call to global outrage and resolve — not a call to polite diplomacy,” he writes. Indeed it should be.