By Helena Zhu
Epoch Times Staff
An Iranian-born Canadian permanent resident has been sentenced to death in Tehran after a court found he had committed “Internet offences,” according to a group campaigning for the man’s release.
Saeed Malekpour, 35, a freelance web developer and programmer, was charged with “insulting the sanctity of Islam” and “taking action against national security by designing and moderating adult content websites.”
His supporters, however, say a program Malekpour designed, which had his name on it, was used by the adult website without his knowledge or approval.
“The only recognizable name in the program was Saeed’s,” said his wife, Dr. Fatemeh Eftekhari, who lives in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
“He is accused of something he absolutely didn’t do and the evidence was kind of shaky to begin with. There are too many false accusations that they are not even technically possible,” Eftekhari wrote in an e-mail to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters in May, according to the website United For Iran.
His supporters say the Iranian judge who tried the case told Malekpour’s lawyer that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards rather than the judge himself made the decision to hand down the death penalty. The Revolutionary Guards is a branch Iran’s military founded after the 1979 revolution that overthrew Iran’s monarchy.
In March this year, Malekpour wrote an open letter to Iranian officials describing physical and psychological tortures that include lashings, beatings, and physical abuse, leading to broken teeth, paralysis, and infections.
“Most of the time, the tortures were performed by a group. While I remained blindfolded and handcuffed, several individuals armed with cables, batons, and their fists struck and punched me. At times, they would flog my head and neck,” he wrote in the letter which is posted on a website set up by his supporters.
He alleged that his mistreatment at the hands of the Revolutionary Guards Cyber Counterrattack was an effort to force him to make a false confession, which was later aired several times on television.
Malekpour’s supporters in Canada have sent a petition to the House of Commons calling on Ottawa to appeal to the Iranian government for his release.
“This appears to be another case in which someone in Iran is facing a death sentence after a highly questionable process,” Alain Cacchione, a spokesman for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department, told CBC News.
On Dec. 10, Human Rights Day, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon issued a statement calling on Iran to “provide fair and due process for all its citizens, including Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and Saeed Malekpour, as well as the many others in Iranian prisons for their religious, political, or social beliefs.”