Human rights groups call for Saeed Malekpour to be released and allege torture
The Iranian Government has sentenced Saeed Malekpour, an Iranian-born web programmer living in Canada until his 2008 arrest, developed software for uploading images online, to death
According to AFP reports, the programmer, who was arrested by Iranian police when he entered the country to visit his terminally ill father, was sentenced to death in December 2010, but this was annulled after the Canadian Government stepped in to oppose the verdict.
Corruptor of the Earth
The death sentence has now been re-instated amid protests by his supporters and international human rights watchdog Amnesty International, which said that Iran must not execute the web programmer, who was sentenced after one of his web programs was used to post pornographic images without his knowledge.
According to civil liberties activist website, United For Iran, charges levied against the programmer include “Taking action against national security by designing and moderating adult content websites”; “Agitation against the regime”; “Contact with foreign entities”; “Insulting the sanctity of Islam” and “Insulting the Supreme Leader and President”. The site also claims that Malekpour was charged with the crime of Mofsed fel-Arz, or spreading corruption on Earth, a crime punishable by death.
After his 2008 arrest, Malekpour was allegedly held in solitary confinement for over a year where he was tortured into confessing to running porn sites. According to the Guardian, he later retracted his confession in a letter where he wrote “A large portion of my confession was extracted under pressure, physical and psychological torture, threats to myself and my family, and false promises of immediate release upon giving a false confession to whatever the interrogators dictated.”
Demands for release
“Once in October 2008,” he continued, “The interrogators stripped me while I was blindfolded and threatened to rape me with a bottle of water. While I remained blindfolded and handcuffed, several individuals armed with cables, batons, and their fists struck and punched me. At times, they would flog my head and neck. Such mistreatment was aimed at forcing me to write what the interrogators were dictating, and to compel me to play a role in front of the camera based on their scenarios.”
Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Ann Harrison said that the court’s decision comes as the regime is cracking down on bloggers and other Internet users. “By confirming Saeed Malekpour’s death sentence after an unfair trial, the Iranian authorities are sending a message to Iranians not to freely express their views, or even to help others to do so, including on the Internet,” Harrison said.
“The Supreme Court should have investigated the reports of Saeed Malekpour’s torture instead of confirming his sentence. If he is held solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression, he should be released immediately and unconditionally” she added.
“The government has officially acknowledged executing at least 31 people already this year, although Amnesty International has received information suggesting at least another 22 people were put to death. This would bring the total number of executions for 2012 to 53 people. Five of those executions were carried out in public,” said the watchdog in its statement, adding that more than 600 people were put to death in Iran throughout 2011.