Mail Online: A Canadian Iranian software engineer is facing imminent execution in Tehran for allegedly operating a pornography website after the Iranian Supreme Court rejected a final appeal from his lawyers.
Saeed Malekpour, 35, says he was tortured into making a confession about the website on live TV and Iranian officials used the broadcast to give him the death sentence.
The software engineer’s family says the web software was only designed for uploading and sharing photos and that adult sites used it without is knowledge.
Human rights campaigners believe the hardline Islamist regime wants to use Malekpour as an example as it cracks down on Internet freedom ahead of elections.
Malekpour, who is a permanent Canadian resident on the path the citizenship there, returned to his native Iran in 2008 to visit his dying grandfather.
He was picked up off the street by plainclothes Iranian policemen and taken to Evin Prison.
He later appeared on Iranian TV with a video-taped confession admitting to posting pornographic images.
On the basis of that confession, he was convicted of ‘insulting and desecrating Islam’ and sentenced to death.
He later sent a letter from prison detailing how he was beaten with batons and cables and forced into making the confession.
Sources told the Toronto Star he was targeted for especially harsh treatment in prison because the regime was hoping to make an example of him for his work online.
His lawyers appealed the conviction to the Iranian Supreme Court, which overturned the lower court decision at first.
But then, apparently after bowing to political pressure, the Star says, the highest court invalidated its own opinion and sent the matter back to the lower courts for retrial.
Now, after a second conviction, the Supreme Court has refused to hear Malekpour’s appeal.
His conviction and death sentence stand.
‘The branch of the Supreme Court responsible for (his) case announced to one of his lawyers that the court reached the decision to have the death sentence carried out,’ Toronto-based human rights campaigner Maryam Nayeb Yazdi told the Star.
‘Saeed Malekpour is in imminent danger of execution.’