A Canadian website developer is facing the death penalty in Iran after a court found Saturday he had taken “action against national security” for allegedly designing “adult” websites, according to a group campaigning for the man’s release.
An announcement on a website urging for the release of 35-year-old Iranian-born Canadian resident Saeed Malekpour says the man was sentenced to death Saturday for allegedly designing adult-content websites that “agitated the regime” and insulted “the sanctity of Islam.”
According to the website, Judge Mogheise, the Iranian judge who tried the case, told Mr. Malekpour’s lawyer that the decision to hand down the death penalty was not his, but rather an edict from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Mr. Malekpour came to Canada in 2004, after which he became a permanent resident. According to his supporters, Mr. Malekpour worked as a freelance website developer and programmer, and designed a program to allow designers to upload photos to their websites. His supporters say the program was later used, unbeknownst to Mr. Malekpour, for the creation of an adult website.
In October 2008, Mr. Malekpour was detained in Iran after he returned to his country of birth to visit his ill father. He has been held in Tehran’s Evin Prison ever since, charged with “taking action against national security by designing and moderating adult content websites,” “agitation against the regime,” “contact with foreign entities,” and “insulting the sanctity of Islam.”
In an open letter to prison officials written in March, Mr. Malekpour says he was tortured and forced to make a false confession.
“Most of the time, the tortures were performed by a group,” Mr. Malekpour wrote in the letter, posted on the website set up by his supporters.
“While I remained blindfolded and handcuffed, several individuals armed with cables, batons and their fists struck and punched me … Such mistreatment was aimed a forcing me to write what interrogators were dictating, and to compel me to play a role to a false confession in front of the camera based on their scenarios.
“Once … the interrogators stripped me while I was blindfolded and threatened to rape me with a bottle of water…”
In the letter, Mr. Malekpour says he spent 320 days straight in solitary confinement.
Mr. Malekpour’s supporters in Canada have petitioned the House of Commons to work for their friend’s release, but it is unknown what steps Canadian officials have taken to date.