Iranian-Canadian Hossein Derakhshan, 35, was a controversial figure among Iran's blogging community. Writing his blog from Canada, he was initially a critic of Iran's clerical leadership, and in 2006 he visited Israel - Iran's archenemy - saying he wanted to act as a bridge between the two countries' peoples.
But he later became a vocal supporter of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, praising him for standing up to the West and criticizing regime opponents. Derakhshan then visited Iran in 2008 and was arrested. Over the next two years, he was often held without communication with family or lawyers, according to rights groups.
The court sentenced him to 19 1/2 years in prison, the report said, adding that Derakhshan can appeal. It was unclear if he would benefit from time served.
Derakhshan helped ignite blogging in Iran by posting simple instructions online on how to create sites in Farsi in 2001. The flourishing of blogs by Iranians at home and abroad that resulted gave the country's reform movement an online platform that has helped it survive heavy crackdowns at home - though authorities tried to block many, including Derakhshan's.
His later embrace of Ahmadinejad angered many reform bloggers. Before returning to Iran, Derakhshan on his blog dismissed worries he could be arrested for his previous writings.
Decius and I sat on a panel with Hoder several years ago. To say some of his positions angered people would be putting it lightly. However, I was still quite dismayed when he was arrested.
19 1/2 years in jail is definitely excessive, but it's way better than the death sentence the prosecution was pushing for. Hopefully the political climate in Iran changes, and he can be freed...
Agree or disagree with Hoder's opinions - the idea that he faced death for expressing them, and that he has been sentenced to 19 years in prison for expressing them, is horrific.