An Iranian blogger who recently visited Israel was arrested in Tehran, an Iranian website reported on Monday. The blogger, Hossein Derakhshan, who runs one of the most popular blogs in his country, returned to Iran several weeks ago after a long stay in Canada.
The Iranian site Jahan quoted "credible sources" as saying that Derakhshan was questioned by the authorities and admitted to spying for Israel.
Derakhshan visited Israel on two occasions. In 2006 he attended a seminar on blog writing held at the Ben Gurion University in Beersheba. During that trip he told Ynet that the main objective of his visit was to "break the taboo" of Israeli-Iranian relations.
"The Iranian media only reports about Israel in connection with suicide bombings and shooting attacks," he said then. "I wanted to show my readers in Iran what Israelis are really like and what daily life in Israel looks like. At the same time, I would like to convey a message to Israelis that the Iranian people aren't as extreme as their regime."
In 2007, Derakhshan arrived for another visit in Israel, during which he was interviewed by Channel 2.
However, shortly afterwards his views changed, and he began writing against Israel and in support of the Iranian regime and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Derakhshan also expressed support for the regime's fight against Iranian intellectuals with dual citizenship, some of whom have been forced to give public "confessions" of their ties with the United States and the "Zionists."
For many Iranians Derakhshan symbolized the model for a successful, well-known blogger who travels around the world promoting democracy and human rights in his country. He has also done a lot to promote the Iranian blogosphere and even wrote a manual for blog writing in Farsi.