I’m feeling a lot of guilt. I just read on Fox that blogger Hossein Derakhshan has been sentenced to 19 years in prison largely because of his Israel trip(s). His first trip here was because I invited him, got BGU to invite him, to come and give a major talk to our department at our end of the year special. Lisa Goldman knew him and that was how I was able to connect up and bring him here for an expense-paid trip.
But when he got here I really became convinced that he was an Iranian agent. You know something put my back up because this was when I was off in super lefty kum ba ya la la land. His behaviour was bizarre, I won’t go into details (I think Lisa has some on her blog in her archives), he acted strange when he gave his talk and wasn’t able to answer some pretty basic questions regarding the Iranian blogosphere at the time (that a couple of Farsi speaking students knew the answers to), and he asked some strange questions of people he met here. The whole thing was really bizarre and I felt a great deal of relief when he was on a plane out. I got nervous enough about him that I talked with some eh folks, and some other people who encountered him here got nervous enough about him that they talked with eh some folks, and those folks got nervous enough to investigate but finally decided that he’s just an opportunistic idiot with the charm of a sociopath who was able to rise to prominence because who the hell speaks Farsi in the media (and he was being interviewed and feted by major media around the globe) or among bloggers and so everything he said tended to be taken as ‘expert’ fact. When he came back about a year later for a conference on blogging, I didn’t go anywhere near him (and the conference panel featured people outside of Hoder who were utterly clueless about blogging, the internet and possibly life in general).

There are so many bizarre and contradictory facts about this guy. A lot of ex-pat Iranian bloggers were afraid of him, as in really afraid. How many people get on the exclusive invite list for Ahmadinejad’s birthday celebration in New York, especially when they are supposed to be, at the time, ‘opposing’ the things going on in Iran? And then pretty quickly he became Ahmadinejad’s best cheerleader. His family is, according to a number of Iranian bloggers who know him, highly connected to the ‘royalty’ of the powers that be in Iran.

I honestly don’t know what to make of this. I do know that I feel terrible that I ever invited him here. I definitely feel terrible that he’s been sentenced to 19 years in an Iranian prison because I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Damn, I just feel terrible and very sorry for him.