Fatima Eftekhari said she doesn’t know what to do now that her husband Saeed Malekpour has been formally sentenced to death in Iran.
Ms Eftekhari, a 32-year-old Richmond Hill resident, said the sentence against her husband of 10 years, who has been imprisoned in Iran since 2008, was issued last weekend, confirming a verbal sentence delivered in late October.
Running out of time in Richmond Hill. Fatima Eftekhari of Richmond Hill said she is running out of options in the case of her husband, Saeed Malekpour, who was sentenced to death in Iran on charges of Internet crimes and national security violations. STAFF PHOTO/STEVE SOMERVILLE
Mr. Malekpour, 35, was arrested for alleged Internet crimes and national security violations two years ago.
Ms Eftekhari and her husband are permanent Canadian residents, but do not have citizenship.
The couple arrived in Canada several years ago in search of a better life, she said.
“I feel so mad and so disappointed,” Ms Eftekhari told York Region Media Group. “I cannot deal with it.”
Her husband’s case may be heard by a higher court in Iran, Ms Eftekhari said, adding she doesn’t expect his sentence to be changed.
“It is hard for me to believe they are going to come to some sense and release Saeed,” she said.
It’s not clear when the sentence would be carried out.
While working as a computer programer, Mr. Malekpour designed a program allowing clients to upload photographs and data files and attached his name to the program, 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 travelled to Iran two years ago to visit his ill father, he was arrested and convicted of running the website based on a false, forced confession, she said.
“These are very big accusations without any evidence,” she said. “There is no evidence whatsoever about any of those accusations.”
Despite the fact Mr. Malekpour isn’t a Canadian citizen and Canadian officials wouldn’t have standing to intervene on his behalf, Mr. Malekpour’s case has attracted widespread attention.
Richmond Hill Liberal MP Bryon Wilfert, whose office has sent two letters — one to the Iranian embassy in Ottawa and another to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Mr. Malekpour’s behalf — said he has met with Iranian representatives.
“The only way you are going to advance any kind of agenda is to meet with people,” Mr. Wilfert said, adding he wants to see Mr. Malekpour back in Canada.
“I don’t care how they do it,” he said.
The federal government has been vocal about similar cases.
Ottawa expressed concern about a death sentence by stoning of Iran resident Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was convicted of adultery.
Ms Ashtiani’s sentence is now on hold and being reviewed at the Iranian Supreme Court, the BBC reported this week.
And, while the foreign affairs ministry did release a statement on Iran’s handling of Mr. Malekpour’s case by e-mail to reporters last month, nothing was posted to the ministry’s website as of press time.
When asked why, the Ministry said the difficultly is Mr. Malekpour is not a Canadian citizen, spokesperson Alain Cacchione said.
Mr. Malekpour’s case has been raised at Queen’s Park by Richmond Hill MPP Reza Moridi, who introduced a petition last month asking foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon to intervene on Mr. Malekpour’s behalf and appeal to the government of Iran.
Then, Deepak Obhrai, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, addressed the case in the House of Commons Nov. 17, saying Mr. Malekpour’s sentence has come at the end of a “highly questionable” process.
In the meantime, Ms Eftekhari feels powerless as she tries not to think of her husband’s fate.
“I cannot even imagine myself in that situation,” she said. “I cannot think that thought.”