Canada has not been granted consular access to detained prominent Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan in Iran, a foreign affairs spokesman said in Ottawa on Tuesday.
“Consular officials have been in contact with Iranian authorities, including by diplomatic note, to obtain confirmation of Mr Derakhshan’s arrest and to seek consular access,” Canadian foreign ministry spokesman Rodney Moore said. “To date, we have not received a response from the government of Iran.”
“Consular officials will continue to press Iranian authorities for access to Mr Derakhshan, consistent with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations,” he said.
The Iranian judiciary confirmed earlier on Tuesday that Derakhshan, whose highly political “hoder.com” blog has not been updated since Oct. 30, is under arrest over remarks he allegedly made about key figures of the Shiite faith.
Derakhshan’s “case is under preliminary investigation and he is in custody,” Iran’s ILNA news agency quoted judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi as saying. Jamshidi did not say when and where Derakhshan was detained.
Some reports outside Iran said he was arrested on Nov. 1 shortly after arriving in Tehran on a private visit. Moore said Canada learned of his reported arrest in mid-November.
A conservative Iranian Web site said in November that Derakhshan had been arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel.
Dubbed the “father” of Iranian blogging, Derakhshan, 34, sparked a blogging revolution in the Islamic republic by posting precise instructions in 2001 on how to set up Persian-language blogs, which have burgeoned to around 70,000 in recent years.
Derakhshan visited Iranian arch-foe Israel using his Canadian passport in 2006 and chronicled his experience on his Persian and English blogs, saying he sought to show Israelis and Iranians a different image of each country.
In the past, Derakhshan was strongly critical of Iran’s conservatives but he expressed support last year for hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his defiant stance against the West.
He has also criticized the positions of Israel and the US on Iran’s controversial nuclear program, and has criticized Iranian reformists and human rights activists.