Iran blogger Hossein Derakhshan temporarily released

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Hossein Derakhshan
Image caption,
Hossein Derakhshan was arrested in 2008

Iran has temporarily freed a pioneering blogger jailed in September for 19 years for anti-state activities, an Iranian human rights group says.

Hossein Derakhshan, a dual Iranian-Canadian citizen, was released on bail of $1.5m (£950,000) but is expected back in prison in a few days.

Derakhshan - nicknamed The Blogfather - started the first Farsi-language blog 10 years ago, the start of Iran's opposition blogging movement.

He was arrested in 2008.

On its website, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) says Derakhshan had requested a prison furlough, or temporary release.

He was freed on Wednesday night on the "unprecedented" bail of $1.5m.

It is unclear who posted the bail on his behalf.

Angering the authorities

Derakhshan, 35, moved to Canada from Iran in 2000, where he blogged under the name of Hoder.

The following year, he posted simple instructions on how to set up a Farsi-language blog.

The move kickstarted Iran's thriving blogging movement, which remains a cornerstone of opposition activism.

He was arrested in November 2008 after he returned to Iran for a visit.

In September, he was sentenced to 19-and-a-half years in prison for "propagating against the regime" and "co-operating with hostile states".

He was also banned from political party membership for five years and ordered to repay earnings of about £28,000.

Originally a vociferous opponent of the Iranian government, in 2006 Derakhshan publicly backed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

He visited Israel in 2006 on his Canadian passport, saying he wanted to show Iranians and Israelis a different side of each country.

However, he angered the Iranian authorities, who do not recognise the Jewish state or dual nationality.

He also spoke out in favour of Iran's disputed nuclear programme.

Derakhshan's lawyer has appealed against his prison sentence but according to the conservative news website Mashreghnews, the court has yet to make a ruling.

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