Mr. Jean Dorion (Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, Iran has just sentenced an Iranian-Canadian blogger to 19 years in prison. He was accused of propaganda against the Islamic Republic for critical comments he made on the Internet. In addition, the Iranian government is refusing to allow officials from Ottawa to visit him in the same prison where Montreal resident Zahra Kazemi was killed in 2003.
What does the government plan on doing to get Iran to release this Canadian blogger?
Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, this government has been very active on this file for a while. We are deeply concerned about the news of this potentially severe sentence. Our embassy in Tehran is following up to seek confirmation of these reports.
If this is true, it is completely unacceptable and unjustifiable. Canada believes that no one should be punished anywhere for simply exercising one’s inherent right to freedom of expression.
Our government’s position has been very clear. Iran must release Mr. Derakhshan and other journalists who have been unjustifiably detained and sentenced.