Iran jails pioneering blogger for 'anti-state activity'

Man typing on laptop computer - generic image Blogging continues in Iran despite a crackdown by authorities after last year's disputed elections

An Iranian court has sentenced a prominent Iranian-Canadian blogger to more than 19 years in jail, rights groups and Iranian media say.

Hossein Derakhshan was charged with "propagating against the regime" and "co-operating with hostile states".

Mr Derakhshan was arrested in 2008 during a visit to the country.

He is credited with launching Iran's blogging revolution. Originally critical of the government, he later backed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Derakhshan was also sentenced for promoting counter-revolutionary groups, insulting Islamic thought and religious figures and managing obscene websites, Mashreq news website reported.

Judicial sources said he could appeal the ruling.

After moving to Toronto, Canada, from Tehran in 2000, he posted simple instructions in Farsi on how to publish blogs - thus helping to spark an explosion of blogging in Iran.

He paid a highly-publicised visit to Israel - Iran's arch-enemy - in 2006, saying he wanted to act as a bridge between the two countries.

Pressure group the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called Derakhshan "a prisoner of conscience, prosecuted and sentenced solely for his opinions and writings".

The group says there are more than 500 prisoners of conscience in Iranian jails.

Iranian opposition bloggers continue to be active despite a government crackdown since disputed elections last year that saw President Ahmadinejad re-elected.

Opposition leaders said the election was rigged.

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