To Iran’s 700,000 bloggers, he is the Blogfather. Hossein Derakhshan is known not only for his erratic opinions and insinuations but also for having discovered a technical solution that made blogging in Farsi possible. When he was arrested last month in Iran and accused of spying for Israel, Derakhshan disproved his own contention that Iran is the freest country in the Middle East other than Israel.

Derakhshan’s true offense was that he visited Israel twice, and in a most public way and expressing idiosyncratic views about society, politics, and political figures in Iran. He lauded the liberty of the Iranian blogosphere and argued that Iran should have nuclear weapons for

deterrence —but not nuclear energy plants.

Whatever Derakhshan’s peculiar, fluctuating views may have been, he is clearly no spy. A spy would not make high-profile visits to Israel on his expatriate’s Canadian passport, or praise President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before flying into Tehran for the first time in years. The famed figure, who goes by the blogonym “hoder,” risks paying a terrible price for assuming

that Iran’s rulers could be tolerant of the free expression that most bloggers take for granted. Everyone in the globe who values that freedom should be calling for the release of the Blogfather. — International Herald Tribune