Archive for November, 2010
Saeed is very ill. He was taken to a hospital yesterday, after suffering for two weeks from severe chronic diarrhea.
Saeed Malekpour was taken to the court last Sunday, without his lawyer, for his new case “Propaganda against Islamic Regime” by writing a letter to IRI’s Judiciary!
An article by Toronto Star newspaper about three Iranian-Canadians who were arrested by Iranian Revolutionary guards when they went back to Iran to visit their families,in 2008. All three of them have been detained in Evin prison.
By Olivia Ward Foreign Affairs Reporter
In October, 2008, Saeed Malekpour’s new life in Canada looked as golden as the sunlight on the autumn foliage.
With a degree in metallurgical engineering from a prestigious Iranian university he was happily settled in Ontario and about to enroll in a master’s program at University of Victoria.
But a decision to visit his dying father in Tehran changed his life forever.
Malekpour is in Iran’s feared Evin prison awaiting what the court has told him will be a death sentence. His cellmate, Hamid Ghassemi-Shall of Toronto, is already facing execution.
Meanwhile Toronto blogger Hussein Derakhshan is serving a 20-year sentence. They have been charged with offences ranging from insulting Islam to cyber crimes and plotting against the clerical regime.
Their families’ anxiety is magnified by the plight of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death on charges of adultery and complicity in her husband’s murder.
Although an original sentence of stoning to death was suspended after worldwide outcry, rumours of her imminent hanging continue. Earlier this week Iran called them “baseless claims” meant to “create a poisonous atmosphere” against Iran.
That’s small comfort to Fatima Eftekhari, a physicist and research scientist from St. Catharines, who last glimpsed her husband, Malekpour, as a thin and sickly prisoner.
“He disappeared four days after his arrival,” she said. “He went to the university to get a confirmation of his degree for his master’s application. Then my sister-in-law called me in the middle of the night and said that Saeed hadn’t come home.”
Eftekhari, who was booked to follow her husband to Tehran, arrived three weeks later, in November, to a Kafkaesque scenario.
“I got a call from somebody who didn’t introduce himself. He said ‘if you want to know about your husband come to this address.’ When I reached it they held me for four hours, interrogated me, insulted me, screamed at me and treated me like a criminal. I was panicked. There were three of them, all big men. I just kept thinking I would never see my husband or parents again. Here, if you’re detained you can hire a lawyer. In Iran everything is hidden. And then you’re gone.”
Eftekhari was released, and later allowed a brief visit with Malekpour who was “almost unrecognizable” after more than a month of torture and detention. She left the country at his urging. His torment was only beginning.
Supporting himself as a computer programmer in Canada, Malekpour was charged with “Internet offences,” that included “designing and moderating adult content websites” as well as agitating against the regime, insulting Iran’s president and Supreme Leader, and having contact with “foreign entities,” a euphemism for spying.
He may also be accused as a “corrupter of the earth,” an undefined charge that warrants the death sentence. Savage interrogation and a forced confession followed.
“After severe beatings, one of the interrogators threatened to pull out my tooth with a pair of tongs,” he wrote in a letter that reached his family. “One of my (teeth) broke and my jaw was displaced after I was kicked in the face. However, the physical tortures were nothing compared to the psychological torments. I endured long solitary confinement (totalling more than one year), constant threats to arrest and torture my wife and family if I did not cooperate, threats to kill me. “
After Malekpour’s “confession,” he was told to expect a death sentence, and the verdict is to be delivered this month.
Malekpour’s cellmate, Ghassemi-Shall, has already been condemned, and his wife Antonella Mega lives in fear that the death sentence will be carried out.
“I can’t even express myself when I think of it,” she says.
Like Malekpour, the Toronto shoe salesman was visiting a seriously ill relative in Iran when he was arrested two years ago on spying charges, shortly after his brother in Tehran was jailed, then died in detention.
Ghassemi-Shall is a Canadian citizen, while Malekpour is a Canadian resident who emigrated from Iran in 2004.
Derakhshan, famed for popularizing blogging in Iran, is also a Canadian. He was given 20 years for “cooperating with a hostile regime” and spreading propaganda.
But Iran does not recognize dual citizenship, and treats visiting emigrants as Iranians. Thousands, like the imprisoned men — who are not political refugees — frequently return for family visits without incident.
The Canadian government, a strident critic of the Iranian regime, has so far been unable to obtain their release. But Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon has taken up the case of Ghassemi-Shall, a ray of hope for his family.
Why were the three men singled out for such draconian charges and abuse?
“There’s a pervasive culture of brutality, and people can be arrested for any number of reasons,” says McGill University law professor and former UN prosecutor Payam Akhavan, who monitors human rights in Iran.
“It shows that Iran is much more chaotic than we believe it to be. There’s in-fighting among various groups who have their own agendas. Even people who think they are immune can be arrested. At the end of the day the regime has to understand there is a price to pay for human rights violations.”
yorkregion Newspaper published an article about Saeed’s case
Fatima Eftekhari says she has been emotionally tormented for two years since learning her husband was arrested and could face the death penalty in Iran.
The 32-year-old Richmond Hill resident says her husband of 10 years, Saeed Malekpour, 35, has been imprisoned in Iran since 2008. He was arrested for alleged Internet crimes and national security violations and, following an Oct. 26 sentence, will be put to death, Ms Eftekhari said.
“It’s like a nightmare,” she told The Richmond Hill Liberal.
Ms Eftekhari and her husband are permanent residents of Canada, but do not have citizenship, she said. The couple arrived in Canada several years ago.
While working as a computer programer, Mr. Malekpour designed a program that would allow clients to upload photographs and data files and attached his name to the program before sending it out, she said.
“He always loved computers and was pretty good at that,” she said.
Unbeknownst to her husband, the program appears to have been used as part of an adult content website, she said. When Mr. Malekpour visited Iran in 2008 to visit his ill father, he was arrested, accused of running the website and convicted, she said.
“We were so shocked,” she said.
If he had known the program would be used for adult content, he would not have put his name on it or visited Iran, she said, adding she does not believe the allegations against her husband.
Several blogs and petitions have emerged in support of Mr. Malekpour and his story has been featured on CBC.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade issued a statement condemning Iran’s handling of Mr. Malekpour’s situation.
This appears to be another case in which someone in Iran is facing a death sentence after a highly questionable process, Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alain Cacchione said. adding Canada continues to call on Iran to respect its domestic and international obligations and ensure fairness and due process for all its citizens and others.
“Canada remains deeply concerned by the continued flagrant disregard of the Iranian authorities for the rights of both Iranian and dual-national citizens,” Mr. Cacchione added. The details of the case could not be independently verified at press time.
Meanwhile, Richmond Hill MPP Reza Moridi presented a petition Thursday to the provincial legislature asking federal Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon to intervene on Mr. Malekpour’s behalf and appeal to the government of Iran.
Even if the Iranian authorities have found the distribution of adult content illegal, he believes the case shouldn’t warrant a death sentence, Mr. Moridi said in an interview.
However, Canada might be between a rock and a hard place, diplomatically, if it tried to pursue the case with Iranian authorities, according to University of Toronto international law expert Ed Morgan.
Because Mr. Malekpour is not a citizen, Canada’s ambassador wouldn’t have standing to intervene on his behalf, Mr. Morgan said.
“But, we should be out there for human rights generally,” he said.
At the federal level, Richmond Hill MP Bryon Wilfert said his office sent two letters — one to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and one to the Iranian authorities in Ottawa — after hearing of the case.
The letters ask the Foreign Affairs Ministry to contact Iranian authorities to appeal for a fair trial and a formal meeting.
He said his office has handled similar cases in the past.
“The difficulty is neither are Canadian citizens,” Mr. Wilfert said. “All we can do is send strongly worded letters.”
When contacted in Ottawa, Iranian authorities were unavailable at press time.
And for now, all Ms Eftekhari can do is wait.
“All the people who know Saeed know him as a decent person and a good man,” she said.