Computer Programmer's Death Sentence Dropped in Iran

by JoHarrington

Since December 2008, Saeed Malekpour has been on Death Row in Iran for writing computer software. The Canadian Permanent Resident may now escape the noose.

Saeed Malekpour was arrested when he rushed back to Iran to visit his dying father.

He had written a program to ease the way images are uploaded onto websites. As a commercial enterprise, it had been bought by the owners of a site specializing in pornography.

Saeed was sentenced to death for simply doing business with them, even though he didn't know the nature of their site. Five years later, that death sentence has been suspended.

Saeed Malekpour's Death Sentence Suspended

Tehran newspapers are reporting that the threat of hanging has been lifted from the programmer for now.

Being a geek was never this terrifying before. 

Saeed Malekpour was just 32 years old, when he was seized on a visit to his old university; and thrown into solitary confinement in the notorious Evin Prison.

He has spent the last five years tortured for confessions and repentance, while under constant threat of imminent execution.

Human rights organizations and world governments have put Iran under steady pressure to better his conditions, and to save him from being hanged.

On December 2nd 2012, his lawyer was finally able to report to news outlets in Tehran that Saeed's death sentence had been suspended.

Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabee told reporters that the change of heart had come several months after Saeed had repented his crimes. "My client was sentenced to death by a revolutionary court and the verdict was confirmed by the supreme court... but he later repented."

However, this does not mean that Saeed Malekpour is free.  He's no longer in solitary confinement, and his family have finally achieved visiting rights, but he's still incarcerated.  His lawyer spelt out the situation right now. "We now hope that my client will receive a reduced sentence."

The Story of Saeed Malekpour

Living and working in Canada, Saeed Malekpour created software for uploading images on-line. It led directly to torture and Death Row.
A computer programmer may have been tortured in a bid to force a public statement, as Iran faces international criticism over his plight.

Poem for Human Rights T-Shirt

Persian Human Rights Poetry

Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain.

Saadi, a Persian poet, whose words are rendered as calligraphy on the t-shirt.

Saeed Malekpour's case is just one of those which has been taken up by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.  Representations have also been made by the Canadian government amongst others. 

Saeed is a Canadian Permanent Resident.

Saeed Malekpour's Birthday

On June 4th 2012, supporters (including family members) put together this YouTube video to mark Saeed's birthday. It was intended to raise awareness of his plight.
Saeed Malekpour's case is discussed in this USA report on human rights practices in Iran. It was published in 2012 by the US Department of State.
Report on Human Rights Practices Country of Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a constitutional, theocratic republic in which Shia Muslim clergy and political leaders vetted by the clergy dominate the key power structures. G...

View on Amazon

What Did Saeed Malekpour Actually Do?

He was charged with 'internet offences' against Iran and Islam, based upon image uploading software which he had designed and sold.

Saeed Malekpour was happily settled with his wife in Ontario, Canada.  They were both Iranian nationals, who had made a new life for themselves in their adopted country.

Saeed and his wife Fatima Eftekhari now had Permanent Resident status in Canada.

While Fatima completed her PhD, her geek husband supported them both by writing computer software.  In the hope of attracting further commissions, Saeed added his name and contact details to every digital item that he sold.

This piece of good business sense turned out to be his downfall, when a program for uploading images onto websites was used by pornographers.  Back in his native Iran, cyber police took note and just waited for him to return to the country of his birth.

When news came that Saeed's father was close to death, his son immediately dropped everything and rushed to catch a flight into Tehran.  Fatima, as a Physicist and research scientist, couldn't come immediately.  She followed on four days later, but by then there was even more urgency in her arrival.

Planning to undertake a master's course in Ontario, Saeed needed a copy of his degree certificate from Tehran's Sharif University of Technology.  He'd nipped out to pick one up, but never came home.

Once in Tehran, Fatima received a 'phone call telling her that she had to go to a certain address, if she wanted information about her husband. She did so and was interrogated for four hours by officials, who wouldn't give their names or department credentials.

Days later, she was finally allowed to see Saeed.  After a month in detention, she described him as 'unrecognizable'.  He had obviously suffered torture.  He simply told her to leave Iran quickly.  At his urging, Fatima flew home to Canada, where she's since devoted all of her efforts to saving her husband.

Saeed was finally sentenced to hanging for 'internet offenses'.  This included charges of 'designing and moderating adult content websites', which constituted 'insulting the sanctity of Islam'.  Furthermore his record includes agitation against Iran's president and Supreme Leader, as well as the state of Iran itself.  He'd been contacting 'foreign entities'.

Saeed confessed and repented of it all.  But there have been huge question marks over the manner in which both were extracted from him.

In a letter which was smuggled out to his family, he wrote, 'After severe beatings, one of the interrogators threatened to pull out my tooth with a pair of tongs... One of my (teeth) broke and my jaw was displaced after I was kicked in the face. However, the physical tortures were nothing compared to the psychological torments. I endured long solitary confinement, constant threats to arrest and torture my wife and family if I did not cooperate, threats to kill me.'

This is why human rights organizations have been involved.  The announcement that his death sentence has finally been suspended has been met with great relief around the world.  But the fight to free him is not over.

Human Rights for Iran T-Shirt

Articles about the Death Penalty and Human Rights

Sentenced to death, Saeed Malekpour faced being hanged by a noose.
Examining the murky history and gruesome use of hanging as a method of execution. Not an article for the faint-hearted.
I consider judicial execution to be a 'cruel and unusual punishment', which is contrary to international human rights laws.
The mere fact of being born into our species entitles you to human rights; but do you know what they actually are?
Have you ever really imagined what it would be like? You or a loved one given that date and watching it draw near. Knowing that you will be killed.
Updated: 03/15/2014, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 12/11/2012

Thank you very much. I think it's an important case, for which I hope I've done my bit to raise awareness.

Sheri_Oz on 12/11/2012

This is an important article, Jo.

JoHarrington on 12/09/2012

That would be a wonderful outcome indeed. We can but hope; and keep e-mailing the Iranian government; and raise awareness.

Ember on 12/09/2012

I remember the first article you posted on this, I'm glad for the update, and I'm happy to hear the sentence has been dropped!

Next step, letting this poor man go home.

JoHarrington on 12/06/2012

It does seem a trifle unjust from where I'm sitting too.

Jordan on 12/06/2012

This is mental, he has done nothing wrong.

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