Archive for February, 2012


Index: UA 55/12 MDE 13/008/2012 Iran Date: 17 February 2012



W eb programmer Saeed Malekpour could be executed at any time in Iran . His death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court on 17 January 2012 and a court official has indicated that his death sentence may have now been sent for implementation .

Saeed Malekpour, a resident of Canada and Iranian national, aged 36, was again sentenced to death on 19 October 2011 by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, and it was confirmed by Branch 32 of the Supreme Court on 17 January 2012. On 14 February 2012, one of Saeed Malekpour’s lawyers visited both courts to ask about his case, but learned that the file was being held at neither court. Comments from a court official suggested that this is because Saeed Malekpour’s file has been sent to the Office of Implementation of Sentences.

Saeed Malekpour was sentenced to death for “insulting and desecrating Islam” after a programme he had developed for uploading photos online had been used to post pornographic images without his knowledge. Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced him to death in October 2010 following a trial that reportedly only lasted 15 minutes. After a June 2011 announcement that the Supreme Court had returned the case for further review, Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court imposed again the death sentence as well as prison sentence of seven and a-half years. Amnesty International understands that although he has legal representation now, for much of his detention Saeed Malekpour has had no access to legal counsel.

Saeed Malekpour had been living in Canada since 2005, but was arrested in October 2008 while visiting his family in Iran. He was allegedly tortured while held for over a year in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin prison. In 2009, Iranian state television repeatedly aired a “confession” by Saeed. In an open letter dated March 2010, Saeed Malekpour stated his “confession” was extracted after prolonged torture following orders by Revolutionary Guard interrogators.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Persian, English or your own language :

Calling on the Iranian authorities to not execute Saeed Malekpour;

Expressing concern that Saeed Malekpour did not have a fair trial, and to disregard as evidence in court “confessions” which may have been coerced;

Reminding the Iranian authorities that under international law, the death penalty can only be carried out for “the most serious crimes”, which must be “intentional crimes with lethal or other extremely grave consequences”.


Leader of the Islamic Republic

Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei

The Office of the Supreme Leader

Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: info_leader@leader.ir

Twitter: “Call on #Iran leader @khamenei_ir to halt the execution of Saeed Malekpour Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani

[care of] Public relations Office

Number 4, 2 Azizi Street

Vali Asr Ave., above Pasteur Street intersection

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran Email: bia.judi@yahoo.com (In subject line: FAO Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani)

Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:

Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights

Mohammad Javad Larijani

High Council for Human Rights

[Care of] Office of the Head of the Judiciary, Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave. south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: info@humanrights-iran.ir

(subject line: FAO Mohammad Javad Larijani)

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.




Saeed Malekpour has been in detention since his arrest on 4 October 2008. In a March 2010 letter he wrote about his arrest: “a few agents physically beat me severely and verbally abused me, while I remained handcuffed and blindfolded. They forced me to sign a few forms, but I was not able to read the contents”. Saeed Malekpour was held in solitary confinement from his arrest until 16 August 2009 and during this time was denied contact with his family or legal counsel. Saeed Malekpour was again transferred to solitary confinement on 21 December 2009 and remained there until 8 February 2010. After being reportedly beaten by guards and kicked in the face in January 2009 , Saeed Malekpour’s jaw became dislocated. It is not known whether he received adequate medical care. In addition to this, Saeed Malekpour has had limited access to legal counsel throughout his detention and Amnesty International understands that his lawyer has been unable to file for a judicial review of the case.

Saeed Malekpour’s arrest in October 2008 was in relation to alleged cyber crime. Two other individuals were arrested around the same time: blogger Vahid Asghari, who had been studying information and computer technology in India prior to his arrest in 2008, and website administrator Ahmad Reza Hashempour. Both are also on death row after apparently unfair trials, awaiting execution in relation to their online activities.

In 2009, a group reportedly affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, alleged that some individuals, including Saeed Malekpour, were part of “a network of decadence on the internet.” The 2009 Law on Cyber Crimes in Iran extended the death penalty to such crimes. A relatively new and shadowy “cyber army”, reportedly linked to the Revolutionary Guards, has also carried out attacks on websites at home and abroad, including the Twitter site and Voice of America.

Prior to his arrest, Saeed Malekpour had been living in Canada since 2005 and holds Canadian permanent residency. There has been ongoing campaigning in Canada for Saeed Malekpour’s release.

This year the Iranian authorities have acknowledged the execution of 41 people, including nine public executions. Amnesty International has received credible reports of 25 other executions which were not officially acknowledged, mostly of alleged drugs offenders.

Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a state party, states the death penalty may be “imposed only for the most serious crimes”. In November 2011, the UN Human Rights Committee, which oversees implementation of the ICCPR, expressed concern about the number of death sentences imposed and carried out in Iran in its Concluding Observations. The Committee stated that the Iranian authorities “should consider abolishing the death penalty or at least revise the Penal Code to restrict the imposition of the death penalty to only the ‘most serious crimes’”.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unconditionally as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and violation of the right to life and is calling for all death sentences in Iran to be commuted.

Name: Saeed Malekpour

Gender m/f: m

UA 55/12 Index: MDE 13/008/2012 Issue Date: 17 February 2012

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FREE Saeed campaign supporter demonstrates a mock execution in Ottawa, Canada outside the Iranian embassy on February 4.


Global Protests Mount to Halt Web Developer’s Imminent Execution in Iran …“International community only hope to prevent execution.”


26 February 2012 | 1:00pm | outside Iranian embassy
(the original date was 24 February but changed due to snow storm)
245 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa, Ontario

Washington D.C.
25 February 2012, | 1:00pm | in front of Islamic Republic offices
2209 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington D.C.

Various Dates 

February 23, 2012, Toronto |
The threat of death for Saeed Malekpour, a 36-year old web developer, is imminent. Last Thursday the Canadian resident’s lawyer confirmed that the sentence was transferred to the implementations office. “…this means they are capable of executing [Saeed Malekpour] any moment they wish,” the lawyer said.

Maryam Nayeb Yazdi, coordinator for the Free Saeed Campaign, announced recently: “We’re escalating our efforts to raise support for Saeed Malekpour’s case by organizing various rallies across North America.”

Human rights activists and concerned citizens will hold two separate street protests against the death penalty, one outside the Iranian embassy in Ottawa on Friday and the other in front of the Islamic Republic offices in Washington D.C. on Saturday. The cases of other prisoners including Vahid Asghari, Mehdi Alizadeh, and Ahmad Reza Hashempour, who are also at imminent risk of execution for Internet-related charges, will be highlighted at the events. Additionally, Kurdish Iranian citizens Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Shirko Ma’arefi, who are in danger of imminent execution as well, will be the other prisoners highlighted at the events.

The Moradi’s are on death row for the unproven charges of spying for Britain and playing a role in the 2010 assassinations of a few people, including the son of a Friday Prayer Imam. Like Malekpour, the confessions the Moradi’s gave to interrogators were extracted under torture. Shirko Ma’arefi is one of nearly two dozen Kurdish activists on death row in Iran.  His mother told a human rights organization in 2010, “We see no difference between our son and others. They are all innocent and have mothers who are awaiting their return. I am calling on all human rights organizations to not remain silent…”

On Friday and Saturday there will be events organized by Amnesty International Canada to collect signatures on behalf of Saeed Malekpour to further pressure the Iranian authorities.

Last Thursday the Canadian government took their strongest action yet for Saeed Malekpour. Members of Parliament in Canada’s House of Commons reached unanimous consent on a motion to “hold Iran accountable for Mr. Malekpour’s treatment.” The same day Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird released his second statement for Malekpour. Baird called on the Iranian authorities to “reverse its current course, and live up to its international human rights obligations.”

On Tuesday the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, renewed calls for Iranian authorities to halt Malekpour’s execution. This is the second statement the European Union has released in the past two weeks regarding Saeed. “I repeat my call on Iran to review their sentences and I particularly call of Iran to halt the execution of Saeed Malekpour,” Ashton said. The British Foreign and Commonwealth office, the U.S. State Department, and Foreign Affairs Italy and Norway have also released statements calling for a halt to Malekpour’s imminent execution.


GLOBAL NATIONAL, February 24: Supporters Fight to Save Canadian on Death Row in Iran

CTV’s Canada AM,  February 20:  Iran’s ‘charades against humanity’

CTV News, February 19: Canadian resident Saeed Malekpour on death row in Iran


Maryam Nayeb Yazdi
Human rights activist

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National Post, David Frum | The Iranian regime’s war against its own people threatens to claim another casualty: Canadian landed immigrant Saeed Malekpour, sentenced to death for the crime of designing a website. 

The Iranian regime is moving to carry out the sentence imminently, adding one more killing to the hundreds of judicial murders since the stolen presidential elections of 2009.

Even by the regime’s own brutal standards, the Malekpour case is a travesty. Malekpour designed websites that allow the uploading of photographs. Allegedly, some people used those sites to upload sexual images. The regime accused Malekpour of distributing pornography and thereby “insulting the sanctity of Islam.”

Malekpour was held for a year in solitary confinement, tortured and ultimately sentenced to death.

From the point of view of civilized nations, Malekpour did nothing criminally wrong, even if every item in the indictment against him were true. But of course if the charges against Malekpour were true, he would not be in trouble even in Iran.

Sex as such does not offend the Iranian authorities. Iran’s religious authorities have developed a doctrine of “temporary marriage” — lasting 2 hours or so — that effectively legalizes prostitution. Brothels are found in Iran’s major cities, sometimes operated by the clerics themselves.

The website Planet Iran has posted this translation of a document issued at a religious shrine on July 18, 2010:

“In order to elevate the spiritual atmosphere, create proper psychological conditions and tranquility of mind, the Province of the Quds’eh-Razavi of Khorassan has created centres for temporary marriage (just next door to the shrine) for those brothers who are on pilgrimage to the shrine of our eighth Imam, Imam Reza, and who are far away from their spouses.

“To that end, we call on all our sisters who are virgins, who are between the ages of 12 and 35 to co-operate with us. Each of our sisters who signs up will be bound by a two year contract with the province of the Quds’eh-Razavi of Khorassan….

“Attention: For sisters who are below 14 years of age, a written consent from their fathers or male guardian is required.”

While outright prostitution is condoned, what offends the Iranian authorities is the use of photography to expose the miserable living conditions of those women held to prostitution.

The website Payvand.com hosts a collection of photographs by the great Iranian photographer, Kaveh Golestan. (Golestan took the only known photograph of the Ayatollah Khomeini smiling; the photographer was killed by a landmine in Iraq in 2003.) These photographs from inside Tehran’s brothel district show women living in wretched poverty on filthy alleyways. The brothels are legal. Only the photographs are banned — and not only banned, but blocked by the regime’s Internet-blocking technology.

If Malekpour developed web technology that expedited the sharing of such images inside Iran, you can well imagine why the regime regarded him as a threat.

Under the pressure of external economic sanctions and the regime’s own corruption and mismanagement, the Iranian economy is disintegrating. The currency is collapsing toward worthlessness, inflation is accelerating and unemployment is rising.

Against this background of discontent, the regime has scheduled parliamentary elections for March. The elections are not free in any sense. Payvand reports:

“While the 2009 presidential race was between the incumbent hardline president and reform candidates, the forthcoming Majlis elections are expected to be between the supporters of Ahmadinejad and those of ayatollah Khameneni, as key reformers have announced that they are not participating in the elections because reform leaders such as Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi are under house arrest while others are serving long-term prison terms on charges of sedition or plotting against the regime. Reform groups have also been outlawed by the regime.”

Hardliners vs. ultra-hardliners — and with everybody else banned. Yet even such a limited opportunity for the expression of public opinion clearly frightens the fragile Iranian regime.

In its fear, the regime reaches out to kill, ordering terror attacks against the Saudi ambassador to the United States and — most recently — against Israeli diplomats in India, Thailand and Georgia.

Yet these plots have mostly gone awry, suggesting a serious weakening of Iran’s international terror capacities.

At home, though, the frightened and unpopular regime has turned deadlier than ever. It murders in hopes of intimidating, and it intimidates because it has lost all legitimacy.

The Iranian regime holds power only by terror and for terror. It kills because it is afraid — and because it has so much to be afraid of.

National Post

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The Canadian government took an urgent unanimous stance for Saeed Malekpour today in Parliament– their strongest move yet. 

Members of Parliament in Canada’s House of Commons reached unanimous consent this afternoon on a motion moved by CPC MP Costas Menagakis regarding Saeed Malekpour:

“That this House express its deep concern for the safety of Iranian citizen Saeed Malekpour following reports of his imminent execution; that Canada hold Iran accountable for Mr. Malekpour’s treatment; and that this House call on Iran to reverse its current course, meet its international human rights obligations and release prisoners such as Saeed Malekpour and others who have failed to receive fair and transparent legal treatment.”

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Saeed Malekpour’s sister has written an URGENT APPEAL to the United Nations. She is hoping that the the United Nations may help her save Saeed’s life.

You can help get Maryam’s voice heard faster by emailing her letter to the following UN contacts: 

Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for the Office of Human Rights 
Email: npillay@ohchr.org
Fax: +41-22-917-9008 (Geneva) +1-212-963-4097 (NY)

His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations 
Fax: 212-963-7055 (You can send a fax for free online here), Tel: 1-212-963-7160, 61, 62

Additional Emails

E-mail: urgent-action@ohchr.org
Email: inquiries@un.org
Email: sg@un.org

To the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights:
My name is Maryam Malekpour. I am Saeed Malekpour’s sister. I am writing this urgent request to you on behalf of my family. We live in Tehran, Iran. My brother has been living with the threat of death in Evin prison since October 2008. We require your urgent help. When Saeed’s lawyers visited the Revolutionary Court two days ago to follow up on his case file, they discovered that the file containing the death sentence ruling was no longer there, and it was not in the possession of the Supreme Court either. Saeed Malekpour’s lawyers were informed that this only meant that the case file was sent to the Circuit Court for Execution of Sentences.

One of Saeed’s lawyers said: ”If we [Saeed’s lawyers] had a chance to review the case file, then we would have had a chance to prevent the execution of the sentence. By reviewing the case we could have pointed out that an expert has never been brought into the case for investigation. The case file was sent straight to the Circuit Court for Execution of Sentences.” He continued: “Since Saeed Malekpour’s sentence is in the possession of the Circuit Court for Execution of Sentences, this means that they are capable of executing Saeed at any moment they wish.”

Saeed’s case file was sent to the the execution of sentences office even though his lawyer’s never reviewed the case file beforehand. Many illegal actions have been taken to condemn Saeed to death, including the fact that no expert has ever reviewed the case. Some other examples of illegal actions taken are: One of Saeed’s charges is, “Corrupting the Earth”, however no one, not even the lawyers have been able to review the charges in Saeed’s case file. They want to execute Saeed but his case file still possesses discrepancies never investigated. The only evidence they have to condemn Saeed to death are hours of false confessions Saeed gave while under physical and psychological torture. I am aware that the United Nations already possesses a detailed record of Saeed’s accounts of torture.

Saeed was living in Canada with his wife. They are Permanent Residents of that country. He came for a visit to Iran in October 2008 to visit his father, who died from a brain tumour shortly after Saeed’s arrest.

We cannot believe Saeed was arrested in the first place let alone sentenced to death. We cannot believe that we have been forced to live a horrific nightmare every day for more than three years. Saeed can be illegally executed at any moment unless the international community defends his life. Saeed’s lawyers have told our family that the only hope left is the international community. All legal channels within Iran have been exhausted.

We are desperate for your help!

Please help Saeed. We can provide you with any further information needed. If we all do our part, we can possibly save Saeed from execution.


Maryam Malekpour
Tehran, Iran
February 16, 2012

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February 16, 2012

Urgent Appeals Needed: Saeed Malekpour Risks Death at Any Moment!

“International community only hope to prevent execution”

Saeed Malekpour, a Canadian Resident from Iran who has been living with the threat of death in Evin prison since October 2008, can be executed at any moment. When Saeed Malekpour’s lawyers visited the Revolutionary Court two days ago to follow up on their client’s case file, they discovered that the file containing the death sentence ruling was no longer there, and it was not in the possession of the Supreme Court either. Saeed Malekpour’s lawyers were informed that this only meant that the case file was sent to the Circuit Court for Execution of Sentences.

One of the lawyers said: “If we [Saeed’s lawyers] had a chance to review the case file, then we would have been able to prevent the execution of the sentence. By conducting a review we could have pointed out that an expert has never been brought into the case for investigation. The case file was sent straight to the Circuit Court for Execution of Sentences without review.” He continued: “Since Saeed Malekpour’s sentence is in the possession of the Circuit Court for Execution of Sentences, this means that they are capable of executing Saeed at any moment they wish.”

Many illegal actions have been taken to condemn Saeed Malekpour to death, including the fact that his lawyers and no other expert has ever reviewed the case. The Iranian authorities want to execute Saeed Malekpour but his case file still possesses discrepancies never investigated. The only evidence used to condemn him to death are hours of false confessions he gave while under physical and psychological torture.

Saeed Malekpour’s sister sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations action center earlier today. The United Nations has not made any comments to date on Saeed Malekpour’s death sentence.

In Canada, human rights activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam said today:  “The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister of Canada have been informed on the urgency of this matter and are taking measures calling on the Iranian regime to spare his life. We are hoping for quick action.”

Saeed Malekpour can be illegally executed at any moment unless the international community defends his life.  
Maryam Nayeb Yazdi 
Coordinator for the Saeed Malekpour Campaign

Email maryam.nayebyazdi@gmail.com

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Cartoon by Kianoush Ramezani for Saeed Malekpour

Letter in protest to Saeed Malekpour’s death sentence
Written by political prisoners in ward 350
Translation by Siavosh Jalili, Persian2English

In the wake of the confirmation of Saeed Malekpour’s death sentence by the [Iranian] Supreme Court, statements made by some of the judicial and security authorities have further increased the concerns [about the fate of Saeed Malekpour]. Saeed Malekpour, a web designer who also rented web space, is facing a certain execution sentence after three years of legal limbo, detention in prisons [and wards] run by the security organizations, and enduring lengthy periods of solitary confinement. The charge against him is directing so-called “obscene” websites. However, in a letter he wrote in 2010, he denied this accusation, disclosed the tortures he endured during the interrogations, and stated how he was forced to make false [self-incriminating] confessions and repeat them in front of a camera. He confirmed that he was only designing websites and renting web spaces. This latter statement is his real admission under normal circumstances while he was in ward 350. After the publication of this letter and the interviews given by his wife outside of Iran in which she dubbed the case of her husband a political one, Saeed Malekpour was transferred back to ward 2-A [under the control of the IRGC] after spending nine months in ward 350. He has been imprisoned in ward 2-A since December 2010.

Based on the laws governing due process in the Islamic Republic, all the stages of interrogation, detention, investigation and trial for Saeed Malekpour have been illegal. During the interrogations- contravene to the existing laws- he was subjected to physical and psychological torture. He was stripped and threatened with rape; his teeth were pulled with pliers; he was subjected to electrical shock by stun guns, he was lashed with cable wires; he was kept in solitary confinement for nearly one year (following his arrest); he was tried in a closed court session (while according to the Constitution, security and political trials have to be public); and was transferred to ward 2-A [solitary confinement] after the sentence was announced. He has not been handed in to the Iran Prison Organization since December 1, 2010.

No verdict or sentence can be considered legal under such circumstances. As a result, we, the undersigned, call the attention of all the awakened consciences to the flagrant violation of Saeed Malekpour’s civil and human rights, and express our opposition and revulsion of the sentence against Saeed Malekpour. Moreover, we would like to explain the following points:

Execution is an inherently inhumane act, because, in our view, no human being has the right to take away another human being’s life. Execution has never solved the problems Iranian society face. It has been simply used by the ruling establishment to avoid the question and the problem. As a result, the problems resulting in the death sentences have remained and the crackdowns have not been effective or helpful but, on the contrary, they have been catastrophic.

Saeed Malekpour’s death sentence is a political sentence that the regime has issued to further control cyber space and terrorize internet users. Such harsh sentences for cyber cases are targeting regular citizens who are using the Internet in different ways.  By resorting to this method, the ruling establishment, on one hand, terrorizes non-political Internet users, and on the other hand, it is showing muscle and boasting [its ability] to eliminate [dissent] by exposing the Iranian society’s political and social climate to the option of execution [as an apparatus of fear] . There is a precedent of such cases, and in the past years and on various occasions, individuals have been executed under such non-political pretexts as drug trafficking while the actual case was political.

Under the current circumstance where the Islamic Republic regime still uses the option of physical elimination and killing—which have been frequently used in the form of either execution or assassination—only public global protest and expression of revulsion can be effective. If not, siding with the regime in any form, or any lack of minimum social reaction would help the continuation of execution by the regime.

We believe that anyone anywhere in the world and in any social condition can protest against executions, and at least the illegal executions. Meanwhile scholars, writers, and those with access to the media have a greater responsibility as they can better get their voices heard.

In the past two years in ward 350 of Evin prison, we witnessed several executions. We testify that in none of these executions the existing laws of the Islamic Republic were observed. In all stages of the procedures [from arrest to execution] the law was violated, and the death sentences were political [rather than judicial].

A group of prisoners of conscience in ward 350 of Evin prison
February 6, 2011

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