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.