Imagine you are a furniture retailer and one of your customers bought furniture from your shop for a brothel, unfortunately, police raid that brothel and they find the furniture used in there came from your shop. With that, you face charges of associating with prostitution and you’re sentenced to death.
Iran’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal and upheld the death sentence for a web programmer who faces imminent execution for associating with porn websites.
Saeed Malekpour, an Iranian who hold permanent residency in Canada, was picked up by plain-clothed officers in October 2008, while visiting his relatives in Iran, and taken to Evin prison in Tehran, where he spent a year in solitary confinement without access to lawyers and without charge.
1 year after his arrest, the 35-year-old appeared in a state television program confessing to a series of crimes in connection with a porn website. On the basis of his TV confessions, he was convicted of designing and moderating adult materials online by a court in Tehran, which handed down death penalty.
Malekpour later wrote a letter to his wife from prison, in which he said the TV confessions had been made under duress. He was blindfolded, handcuffed and attacked by several individuals armed with cables, batons and their fists struck and punched him. At times, they would flog his head and neck. They forced him to write what the interrogators were dictating, and compel him to play a role in front of the camera based on their scenarios.
Speaking from Toronto in tears, Malekpour’s wife, Fatemeh Eftekhari, said her husband was a freelance web programmer who had written a photo uploading software that has been used by a porn website without his knowledge.
Eftekhari said, “Even if my husband’s charges were true, which they are not, it’s hard to imagine why he should be sentenced to death. If he was engaged in developing and administrating porn website as charged by the Iranian regime, why would he step into Iran?”
His sister, Maryam Malekpour, speaking to RFE/RL’s Radio Farda from Tehran on January 18: “All of Saeed’s activities were within the law, he didn’t commit anything illegal. Saeed just wrote a computer program to help others upload and manage their photos, and market it online; it could have been used by any website on the internet. Unfortunately, without his knowledge, the program was sold and used to upload photos on these immoral websites.”
“All the evidence they have against him is from his confessions,” she said. “Saeed was in solitary confinement for about one and a half years and was under extreme physical and emotional pressure. For sure, anyone who is in this condition and wants it to end will confess to anything they’re asked.”
Ms. Malekpour believes that one of the reasons behind her brother’s imprisonment and conviction could be his ties to Canada. Canadian media said he was awaiting citizenship at the time of his arrest. Canada has recently joined the United States and European countries in stepping up sanctions on Iran in recent months, amid mounting concern as its nuclear program and in response to the country’s abysmal human rights record.
Ms. Malekpour says her own letters to Iranian judicial officials defending her brother have gone unanswered. She has pledged to continue her efforts and says she remains hopeful.
The Iranian Supreme Court sentenced Saeed to death for ‘insulting the sanctity of Islam’, being responsible for ‘spreading corruption on earth’ and ‘threatening to destroy the Iranian nation’, a vaguely worded charge which attracted the death penalty in Iran.
Saeed’s sentence has prompted reactions from human rights activists and organisations who have launched a campaign to save his life. In a January 17 statement, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird condemned the Iranian Supreme Court’s decision.
Gloria Nafziger of Amnesty International in Canada, an organisation that has sought for Malekpour’s sentence to be commuted said: “Amnesty International is very concerned that Saeed Malekpour is facing a death sentence in Iran after an unfair trial and reports that he was tortured in order to confess to his crimes.”
Maryam Nayeb Yazdi, a human rights activist based in Toronto, said, “Saeed is in imminent danger of execution. He has never been provided with a fair trial at any point during this horrific and twisted ordeal.”
(source: Zimbabwe Metro)