Home Iranian Blogger Loses Appeal on 20 Year Term: This Week in Online Tyranny

Iranian Blogger Loses Appeal on 20 Year Term: This Week in Online Tyranny

Hoder goes down for 20. Hossein Derakhshan, the Canadian-Iranian blogger known as “Hoder,” has lost his appeal in Iranian court. He was originally sentenced to 19 and a half years last September, following his arrest when he returned to Iran. Now, that sentence has been confirmed, making him the blogger serving the longest prison sentence ever.

Hoder was well-known for publishing instructions on how to use blogging software for the Persian language, earning him the nickname of “the Blogfather.” Outspoken, he first visited Israel, interviewing, among others, Iranian Jews who had immigrated there. Later, he made an about-face and became a vocal supporter of the Iranian regime, returning to the country of his birth. There he was arrested, his conversion to the cause of the Islamic Republic apparently not enough to wash away his sin of independent thought.

Syria disconnects Internet. Following Egypt and Libya, Syria shut down its connection to the Internet in the hopes of driving back the tide of protests against its ruling family. It was turned back on after about a day.

Nigeria blocks Internet, mobile for inauguration. Sources indicate the Nigerian government shut off the country’s Internet and mobile communications networks in the capital of Abuja for 12 hours during May 29th’s presidential inauguration. Nigeria is not noteworthy for its repressive attitude to the Internet, but its relationship to the oil industry has created instability in the country that has resulted in political violence before.

U.N. report calls Internet access a right. After introducing and passing a resolution condemning blasphemous speech, the U.N. recently reversed that decision. Now, in a new report, it has proclaimed that Internet access itself is a human right.

Arrest of “Gay Girl in Damascus” followed by questions. When “Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari” was reported by her cousin to have been kidnapped by what appeared to be security agents in Damascus, the situation quickly became an Internet cause célèbre . A brave, outspoken Syrian-American lesbian was imprisoned. On a tip, NPR’s Andy Carvin tried to follow up. He was unable to find anyone who had met Amina in person. Later it turned out the photo she was using apparently belonged to another woman.

This is by no stretch proof that Amina doesn’t exist or is not in trouble. But it is distressing and distracting. Regardless, Amina is only one of possibly thousands of bloggers and others who have been detained by the Syrian regime.

Another Chinese microblogger gets a year in a work camp. The Arab Spring-inspired crackdown of social media users in China continues apace with the sentencing of Fang Hung. Fang’s crime? Mocking “the son of a Chinese Communist Party revolutionary elder.” This is not the first time a satirical Chinese microblogger has gotten a year in the gulag. Last year Cheng Jianping began serving a year only days before she was to have been married.

Google defies Kazakhstani attempt to wall off the Web. Google has redirected all users of its Kazakstan-customized search site to the international version. This was in response to the country’s attempt to create reflect the political borders of the country online. It now requires all sites running the .kz root to run on local servers.

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