The Star: As the clock ticks toward his execution in Iran, GTA resident Saeed Malekpour is unaware that he has lost the last appeal of his death sentence for “insulting Islam.”
Meanwhile, governments and human rights organizations around the world are protesting the sentence and asking Iran to quash it.
The Canadian and British governments have issued strong statements, and in the week since Malekpour lost his appeal, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists and Amnesty International have raised their voices against his execution.
But 36-year-old Malekpour, an engineer and website developer, has been isolated in Tehran’s feared Evin prison since he was arrested in October 2008, and is unable to meet with his lawyer or family members.
“Saeed is still unaware that his death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court,” said rights advocate Maryam Nayeb Yazdi. “The only access to the outside world that he has is a two-minute phone call once a week.”
Malekpour, a Canadian permanent resident, was arrested while making an emergency visit to Iran to see his father, who was dying of a brain tumour. But he was seized and detained on charges that he had designed a website used to post pornographic images.
“Saeed didn’t learn of his father’s death until a month later,” said sources in Iran. They said he was denied permission to attend a memorial ceremony at his father’s grave, and instead was tortured until he agreed to a forced confession, which was widely shown on state television.
“The (Revolutionary Guard) told him, ‘Don’t worry, we won’t be airing your confessions,’” the sources said, adding that Malekpour’s mother had a heart attack when she saw him admitting to “ridiculous and horrible acts” on TV.
Malekpour was condemned to death, but the sentence was overturned last summer by Iran’s Supreme Court, which later said the case needed further investigation and handed it back to the court that issued the death sentence.
Malekpour’s final appeal was lost last week when the Supreme Court reconfirmed the sentence.
“Since the recent unrest in the Middle East and the tightening of economic sanctions against Iran, the regime has become more desperate and arrests and executions have increased,” said author Marina Nemat, who was imprisoned and tortured for speaking out against the regime in the early 1980s.
“These terrible methods are used to control the Iranian population. Saeed Malekpour is one of (the regime’s) victims.”
Liberal MP Irwin Cotler — a former justice minister who heads the interparliamentary group on human rights in Iran — said there were reports that Malekpour’s death sentence was “reinstated under pressure from the Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . responsible for the murder of dissidents both inside and outside of Iran.”
He urged the government to impose sanctions on the group and declare it a “terrorist entity.” His group called for Malekpour’s immediate release.
In Britain, Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt condemned Iran’s executions and called for an urgent review of Malekpour’s sentence, and those of others condemned on similar charges. He said that Malekpour’s “harsh sentencing” is contrary to Iran’s international human rights obligations, and raises questions about its “inadequate judicial standards.”