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Iran Sentences Blogger to Prison

A rights group and a news website say Iranian authorities have sentenced a Canadian-Iranian man credited with starting the Internet blogging movement in Tehran to more than 19 years in prison.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and Mashreq news say Hossein Derakhshan received more than 19 years in prison after being convicted on charges of spreading propaganda and cooperating with "hostile" countries.

Earlier this month, Derakhshan's family said he faced the death penalty on a host of charges, including spying for Israel.

Derakhshan is known as the "blogfather." The activist started one of the first Persian-language blogs, which he initially used to criticize Iran's political and religious establishment and promote democratic reform. He later defended President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his policies, including Iran's right to develop its nuclear program.

Iran stepped up a crackdown on opposition activists after Mr. Ahmadinejad's controversial re-election in 2009.

On Monday, an Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi announced a court had banned two major pro-reform parties in Iran. Both parties Islamic Iran Participation Front and the Islamic Revolution Mujahedin Organization supported reformist candidates in last year's election.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.