Canadian/Iranian blogfather Hoder faces death penalty; will Canada intervene?

Jesse Brown writes:
If you haven't been following the case of Hossein Derakhshan, here's all you really need to know: he's a blogger and a Canadian citizen who was arrested in Tehran in 2008 because of things he wrote. He was finally tried, and now he may be executed, and the Canadian government has done nothing to help him.

There are many more details, of course. Details of good things he's done, like when he taught thousands of Iranians how to blog in their own language, and when he traveled to Israel to show his readers that Israelis were not their enemies. And there are details of lousy things he's done, like when he decided to support Ahmadinejadand and his nuclear arms program, and when he turned on peaceful friends and baited the media.

And there are details that muddy his case: he is also an Iranian citizen, and Iran doesn't recognize dual citizenship, and that makes it harder for Canada to do anything, and so they haven't tried.

But these details are irrelevant. "Hoder" is a Canadian citizen with the same rights as any other, and the fact that his country is sitting idle while he faces execution is a shame and an outrage.

If the Canadian Embassy is pressured to do something, they might, and that could well save Hossein's life. The Canadian Embassy in Iran can be contacted at

Free Hoder


  1. It seems to be the same – or a similar – story all over. Governments rarely get involved in actions which might ‘inflame Muslim opinion’. They don’t need any proof that this might actually happen, but it’s become the bogey man. Or is it boogie man?

  2. “and there are details of lousy things he’s done, like when he decided to support Ahmadinejadand and his nuclear arms program, and when he turned on peaceful friends and baited the media.”

    I remember his writings to on these subjects and boy, has this returned to haunt him and even his generation. He thought he knew better and that is not so.
    IMH-prophetic-O, the only way to make change in Iran is going to be through bloodshed since the powers that have been unleashed there can not be dealt with by any other means.

  3. I’m a Canadian citizen living abroad, and I fail to understand why the Canadian government should be intervening in the case of a person who has been convicted of committing a crime in a foreign country and sentenced to be punished in accordance with the laws of that country. He is not a Canadian diplomat provided diplomatic immunity from prosecution, and the rights that he had on Canadian soil are lost when he leaves it. He was involved in political and social activism against a repressive government and doubtless understood the risks he was taking, but even if he did not – he was not acting on behalf of the Canadian government and they have no obligation to him.

    I would not expect the Canadian government to protect me from my own actions if I violated the laws in the country I live in. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t cry out against unjust treatment and terrible punishment, but we need to allow for personal accountability and responsibility of the individual for their own actions.

    Mr Hoder – I salute your efforts and support your principles of communication and peace, but I don’t believe that Canada or Canadians have an obligation to save you from your own conscious actions.

  4. You need not agree to all someone has said and done to recognize that they should not be, indeed no one should be, killed for what s/he wrote.

    Canada, step up.

  5. I read this less as “Blogger faces death penalty” than “Iranian supporter of Ahmadinejad regime faces death penalty anyway.” The blogging and expat angles make it catchier, but authoritarian regimes often persecute supporters for slight deviations from the official line.

  6. Hossein Derakhshan sure doesn’t sound Canadian to me so I checked and found out he was born in Iran and came to Canada much later in life. He was quite the activist blogger and once he received Canadian citizenship he headed back to Iran for more activism. He’s just using this country for his own personal agenda. We owe him nothing. He should just try growing up if he ever gets back out of Iran someday.

    1. Hossein Derakhshan sure doesn’t sound Canadian to me…

      We have people like you in my country too. They’re the ones who say things like “‘Obama’ sure don’t sound like an American name to me!” and seem to believe some citizens warrant more rights than others. I try to avoid those people whenever I can.

    2. “Hossein Derakhshan sure doesn’t sound Canadian to me” indeed. You know who doesn’t sound Canadian to me? You don’t, you disgusting racist xenophobic small-minded bigot. Tell us, what native band do you belong to? What’s that, you don’t? So you’re no more or less “Canadian” than Mr. Derakhshan, are you, immigrant?

      Also, @Ugly Canuck – the Canadian government is actually legally obligated to step in to protect its citizens from cruel and unusual punishment. A diplomatic note isn’t just in order, it’s legally required of the government, and their failure to act is evidence that they don’t much care about the law. (Their willingness to fight all the way to the supreme court to avoid having to protect another imprisoned Canadian citizen of Middle Eastern origin, Omar Khadr, suggests an active hatred for the law).

      1. If required by Law, then it is very much “in order”.
        And our current minority Conservative Government has the support of only 30% of our population.

    3. Unless your name is in Native Canadian, then you as well are an immigrant to this great country… you are as well not a Canadian.. go look into your past and background my dear… we are all immigrants who CREATED and DEVELOPED this country from scratch… Stop being so arrogant and u grown up!!!!

  7. And as he is a Canadian citizen, then he ought indeed to receive the same consideration which Canadians on death row, or on trial for their lives, in America (for example) receive.
    Has he been convicted yet?

  8. No country “recognizes” dual citizenship in this sense. Every country’s citizenship laws are primarily aimed at determining who is or is not a citizen of that country. Each country generally recognizes its citizens as its own citizens and doesn’t really care what other citizenships they may hold.

    Some countries prohibit dual citizenship, requiring someone who wishes to become naturalized to formally and finally renounce any other citizenships they may hold (i.e., not just words in an oath, the way the U.S. does.) Sweden prohibited dual citizenship for the first several years I lived there, but they modified their laws to remove this prohibition about a year before I became eligible for Swedish citizenship, so I am now a dual U.S./Swedish citizen.

    But I don’t expect the U.S. to take into account that I’m a Swedish citizen, and I don’t expect Sweden to take into account that I’m a U.S. citizen.

  9. It really sounds as though he’s using his Canadian citizenship to attempt to prevent horrible things from happening to him while he goes about his activism in Iran.

    Bottom line: he’s an Iranian citizen. You don’t get to go to a country where you hold citizenship and expect immunity from their laws just because you have citizenship somewhere else too.

    That fact is explicitly spelled out in your passport.

    1. Dual citizenship complicates things a bit.
      A diplomatic note ought still be sent, should the death penalty be imposed, but I really don’t know how independent the Iranian Judiciary is, or how they’d react to a foreign government presuming to tell their Courts what’s what.
      Nevertheless, should he be sentenced to death, I expect my Government to vigorously protest it. And I suspect that our current government would not be adverse, in this case, to doing so: but our diplomats would know how best to attempt to effect the desired result, and I trust our Government will follow their advice as to what steps to take.

      But it would seem that not all of my countrymen agree.

      1. While I think that the government should make some move to indicate its protest to the death sentence of one of its citizens, I don’t feel that it’s our nation’s job to dig this guy out of a hole he’s led himself to.

        In general I disagree with the death penalty and this is one of the prime reasons I don’t hold citizenship in any countries where that’s a punishment.

        IMO, Mr. Derakhshan should be prepared to suffer the legal consequences of his actions. It would be very unfortunate if he were to be put to death. Perhaps he should have renounced his Iranian citizenship if such a severe penalty was foreseen.

  10. How, when or why Derakhshan became a Canadian citizen is not relevant. All Canadians have the same rights, no matter how long they’ve been here. I’m clicking on that link to the embassy right now, and here are a couple of links that may be useful if you’d like to make your voice heard.

    Office of the Prime Minister:
    Liberal Party of Canada:
    Contact page for MP Justin Trudeau:

    I would suggest looking up your local MP if you would like to be heard as a constituent.

    1. I think he should receive a sentence in accordance with the laws of Iran. It would be unfortunate if this resulted in his death but whatever sentence is handed down is the consequence of violating his country’s laws. (However unfair/unjust the punishment might be.)

      I believe that the Canadian government should indicate to Iran that we Canada feels the death sentence is not an appropriate punishment for a Canadian citizen and perhaps appeal for something less severe.

      In the end, though, an Iranian citizen broke Iranian laws in Iran. That he holds Canadian citizenship as well does not (perhaps unfortunately) absolve him from suffering punishment under his (other) country’s legal system.

      1. No, not just ‘inappropriate for a Canadian citizen”.
        We feel that the death penalty is inappropriate for anybody, anywhere, anytime, for any reason.

        But Sovereign States are free to disagree, of course: and we recognize and honour their Sovereignty, partly by forbearing to comment about how their Laws are treating their own Citizens – for that is scarcely our affair.

        Hence, the “dual citizen complication”.

        1. I should state that in the above post, I am speaking of Canadian Governmental action: as individuals, we ought to speak out whenever and wherever we see an injustice being done.

          Although prudence – or is it cowardice? – will sometimes prevent us from doing so.
          It is also possible, that speaking out so may even serve to worsen the situation of those being unjustly done by, instead of ameliorating it: so caution may be required, as to venue and timing.

          Being prosecuted for exercising simple freedom of speech, without slander, libel, dishonesty, or hatred, is indeed unjust.
          If that is what is happening here, then as an individual, I say now, speaking for myself, that it stinks – and this guy ought to go free.

          1. Again, I feel the need to explicate: “hatred” in the above Post, refers to that hatred which is directed at an identifiable minority group – as it is defined in Canadian Laws limiting such speech.

            For it is clear that a hatred of injustice and crime would motivate the speech, which I advocate that all people exercise, whenever appropriate.

  11. Since he is a dual citizen, the Iranians may simply not recognize his Canadian citizenship.
    IIRC ,some countries don’t recognize such, or require that one make a choice.
    But, travtastic, Mr Harper is no fan of the current Iranian Government: I need to correct you on that point.
    I we can do something without making his situation worse, we should. Solely on the gounds that he faces a possible death sentence.
    But things like this have happened before, and there are practices in place which ought to be followed. That Mr Harper has recently changed our Government’s long-standing standard practice, at least in some cases involving the American justice system, so as to enable him to “pick and choose” which cases deserve such Governmental concern, has indeed brought him in line for criticism – some of it from our senior Courts, no less.
    Nevertheless, I hope our diplomats do what they can to effectively help this fellow avoid the noose.

    1. Anon #28: Good link, and thanks therefor; but any proposal of Legislation ought properly to await the Supreme Court’s decision(s) in the cases mentioned in the Op-ed which you have provided, as those cases are yet under Appeal. Depending upon how that Court rules, there may actually be less of a problem here than meets the eye at present: our Government may simply be wrong as to what the Law – and justice – requires of them.
      Such Legislation may also need to await the election of a new Government, for it is this very Government which has changed, or is seeking to change, our long-standing practices in this area: they wish to pick and choose who is to be thus aided, apparently based upon “the unreviewable whim of the Minister”.

      1. Bah.
        Substitute “whom” for “who”, in my last sentence above.
        Wow – ‘whom’ and ‘whim’ in one whiny sentence. Time for a little wine!

  12. Iranian woman sentenced to death for adultery. INTERNATIONAL OUTRAGE!

    Iranian man sentenced to death for blogging. International outrage?

  13. I sent this there, we have no ambassador in Iran at this time, so I used the term, “Canadian Ambassadorial representative in Iran” which should get to the top bureaucrats, secretaries desk – copy and paste if you wish.

    Canadian Ambassadorial representative in Iran,

    Canadian citizen, Hossein Derakhshan is facing execution by the Iranian State.

    Please intervene on this Canadians behalf in any way you can.

    Michael Holloway

    1. FYI

      Got this automatic email back almost immediately:

      “You have reached Tehran Canadian Embassy general email address, please take note this is not the Immigration email address and this is not Consular email address. Please consult to obtain the proper
      email address.

      Thank you.”

      (Perhaps this means their getting a bit of a flood of emails on this?)

      Went to the address suggested (it’s the same place I’d just obtained the info about our current ambassadorial status in Iran) and the only email address listed is the one I sent the original plea to.


  14. “I think the government of Canada, when a Canadian citizen is ill-treated and when the rights of a Canadian citizen need to be defended, I think it’s always the obligation of the government of Canada to vocally and publicly stand up for that Canadian citizen. That is what we will continue to do.” Stephen Harper

    But, I guess it depends on how they feel about the person, or his family. In Omar Khadr’s case even lower court repatriation orders and the Supreme Court’s declaration that he was being mistreated, plus a subsequent court decision, the recommendation of Parliament and a host of complaints from national and international legal and human rights groups made no difference.

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