Execution news of Iranian citizens on a variety of charges has become top news in Iran, and at times in the global media. As the hour of execution approaches, protests by the media, the people, and human rights communities become louder and more serious.
There are many defendants who have been sentenced to death on a variety of charges; some are on death row and await execution, while others await their sentences to be overturned.
Saeed Malekpour, according to his wife Fatemeh Eftekhari, received a death sentence after spending two years in temporary detention and a state of legal limbo.
Earlier, in an open letter to Sadegh Larijani, the Judiciary Chief [of the Islamic Republic of Iran], Fatemeh Eftekhari wrote: “Through a conversation that the lawyer had with Judge Moghiseh, he discovered that the sentence in mind for Saeed Malekpour is death.”
Saeed Malekpour who studied Metallurgy Engineering at Sharif Technical University is a Permanent Resident of Canada. In a letter [from prison] he described the tortures he endured and the methods [used by interrogators] to extract [hours of] confessions from him. He stated that he was forced under torture to make the self-incriminating confessions.
Jaras – Mrs. Eftekhari, how do you feel these days when you hear about the recent death sentences being carried out?
Fatemeh Eftekhari (FE) – My entire body and soul feels the pain when a compatriot is executed. It does not make a difference whether (s)he is known or unknown. It is really appalling. I have read the letter Mr. Saremi’s daughter [wrote to her father who was executed on December 28, 2010], and I cry every single time [when I read that Mr. Saremi] chanted “O Hussein” before being executed…]. The martyrs that were killed in the Iran-Iraq war ran into the mine fields also shouting “O Hussein!” Our parents did not fight and resist to end up with an Islamic regime of this nature. How can officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran read these letters [by the families of political prisoners] and not die of shame?
Jaras- How were you and your husband informed of the death sentence issued to him?
FE- The sentence was issued to Saeed on November 30th; 40 days after the last court session. However, the lawyer was informed on December 4th and he still has not received the official announcement of the sentence. They have not given him the official [sentence] papers; they only allowed him to write it down [as notes]. This is a ridiculous and shameful process. As an Iranian, I felt embarrassed when I had to explain all this to a Canadian lawyer. Interestingly, at first, the Canadian lawyer thought such processes and treatments are based on the Islamic penal laws, and he was glad that Canada is not an Islamic country! Is this how authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran want to export Islam and the Revolution to the world?
Jaras- Why did you leave Iran? I heard it was upon your husband’s request, is that correct?
FE- Yes, it was upon Saeed’s insistence that I returned to Canada. They made Saeed give and sign many false confessions by threatening to arrest me. We were hoping that by me returning to Canada, his situation would improve.
Jaras- Can you briefly describe your husband’s conditions in prison? Given that you were residing in Canada, did you ever consider the possibility that your husband would be arrested during his trip back to Iran?
FE- Saeed has spent over 27 months in Evin prison. He went to Iran in August 2008 to visit his family and ailing father. Three days after his arrival, he was arrested. It never crossed our mind that he could be arrested because we had not done anything [illegal], nor did we have any activities to be concerned about. I still cannot understand the way officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran have behaved toward Saeed’s case. How could they present a computer programmer as the director of an obscene [ pornographic] website? How could they play with the lives of individuals, the elites of the country, under the pretext of expediency of the regime?
Jaras- How was Mr. Malekpour arrested and how were the confessions extracted?
FE- Saeed was abducted by plainclothes agents who, we found out later, were agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). [On the same date of the arrest], the home of Saeed’s parents was raided in the middle of the night while his father was gravely ill. Saeed’s family has been lied to repeatedly. They were given false promises. They kept my husband in solitary confinement for [over] one year and forced him to make false confessions under torture, threats, and other means. All this became public after the [contested 2009 Presidential] election. I only saw Saeed once in November 2008 in Evin prison [since his arrest]. His physical and emotional state was very grave and it became clear to me that Saeed had been under immense duress and torture. Think about it: the interrogators, in order to extract confessions from a person who has been detained for “moral offences” in cyber space, stripped him naked and threatened him with…[rape]. It is horrific. I cannot [even] say it. What religious and legal justification do they have for resorting to such acts? [Even] at the dawn of Islam (in 7 A.D.), were war prisoners who were not Muslim treated this way?
Jaras- State media has maneuvered a lot on your husband’s case to show that he was arrested and sentenced to death for his activities related to pornographic websites. Can you describe briefly his activities?
FE- When we were in Iran, Saeed was a professional computer programmer for Material Engineering specialized softwares. Saeed’s softwares are currently sold in Iran by several engineering firms carrying his real name: Saeed Malekpour. When we came to Canada, Saeed was a freelance internet program developer for individuals and companies. Two examples of Saeed’s work in Canada includes websites of a chain drugstore and a travel agency. The fact that one of the softwares he wrote and sold has been used, without the knowledge of my husband, as part of an obscene [pornographic] website is not Saeed’s fault. If Saeed knew where the software was going to be used, he would not have written his real name as the programmer. The client had definitely not informed my husband of his inauspicious plan. Another major problem that exists is that the Computer Offences law was passed in the [Iranian] Parliament ten months after my husband’s arrest. Such a law did not exist at the time of Saeed’s arrest.
Jaras- What specific actions have you taken to save your husband’s life? Have your letters and requests been answered by the Iranian authorities inside Iran?
FE- They have not replied to any of the letters, nor have they provided any answers when the family attempted to pursue their grievances in person by going to the Security Prosecutions Office in Evin prison, the Justice department, and the Prosecutor’s office. The last answer they gave to Saeed’s family was, “You [already] know what Saeed’s sentence is.” It is as though they poured cold water over [our hopes]. Everywhere we go, the IRGC casts its long shadow. Everybody is terrified to answer our inquiries.
Jaras- What is the latest news you have of your husband’s condition in prison?
FE- Unfortunately, Saeed is still held in solitary confinement in ward 2-A of Evin prison [ward 2-A is controlled by the IRGC]. He is banned from visits. In a phone conversation he had with his mother, apparently, his spirit, contrary to previous times, was low. He was asking that the lawyer take action so that he could be transferred to the General ward. I really do not know based on what laws and legal sections [they transferred] my husband back to solitary confinement after he already endured [over] one year in solitary confinement and the judicial process and court sessions had come to an end. Weren’t [the regime authorities] held in prisons belonging to SAVAK during Shah’s reign? Weren’t they tortured? Why do they, now that they are in power, commit the same crimes toward the Revolution’s generation and those who were educated during Imam [Khomeini’s] leadership? Where in the Islamic law is such treatments allowed, even toward a criminal?
Jaras- What is your request from the people, given that your husband’s charges have been presented as an apolitical offence?
FE- I want them to pray not only for us but for the families of all innocent prisoners. Everything is in God’s hands. I will use all my strength to [ensure] Saeed’s innocent voice is heard by the people. Our people are enlightened and can make the right judgments.
Jaras- How much time do you think you have to save your husband’s life?
FE- I do not know how much time we have. Hearing the news that [some prisoners of conscience] were suddenly executed when the lawyer was still awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court scares me even more. For now, the case is before the Supreme Court and Mr. Alizadeh Tabatabai is an experienced lawyer. Hopefully, and by trusting in God, his convictions and sentence will be overturned in the Supreme Court and Saeed will return home.
Jaras- Would you like to talk about your own emotional state?
FE- It is an extremely difficult situation, both for me who lives in Canada far from my family and for those who are following up with Saeed’s case and are forced to bear all the insults and scorns and keep silent for the sake of Saeed. I thank God that I was able to finish my PhD despite this crisis and I am working now. Loneliness is painful in a foreign country, but one must endure, keep his/her hopes high and continue to work.
Jaras- At what stage are international efforts? Have they had any impact on how your husband is treated by the regime?
FE- I really hope all these efforts pay off. Human rights activists and the United4Iran group have worked very hard for Saeed’s campaign. Unfortunately, [the authorities] have issued the harsh sentence [anyway]. And now they have opened a [second] case file against him on the charges of “Agitating the public mind”, and “Collusion with his wife to act against national security” for the letter [of torture] he wrote from prison that was published on news sites. I really do not know how else I can speak to officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran when even talking about my husband’s case or following up on it is considered a crime.
Jaras- Is there anything you would like to add?
FE- I wish for the release of all innocent prisoners. We all have to try [to secure their release], united, and shoulder to shoulder.