IRAN: DEATH SENTENCE UPHELD TO IRANIAN WEB DESIGNER
January 16, 2012: Iran's Supreme Court upheld the death sentence to a 35-year-old Iranian website designer convicted of illegal cyber activity. Saeed Malekpour, who was a resident of Canada, was arrested in 2008 after returning to Iran to visit his ailing father. He was taken to Tehran's notorious Evin prison, where he spent a year in solitary confinement.
He was sentenced to death in 2010 on a number of charges, including "designing and moderating adult-content websites" â activities that are considered un-Islamic.
His sister, Maryam Malekpour, speaking to RFE/RLâs Radio Farda from Tehran on 18 January, said her brother was not involved in any illegal activity. She said a computer program he had written and put his name on was used by pornographic websites to upload pictures. âUnfortunately, without his knowledge, the program was sold and used to upload photos on these immoral websites," Maryam Malekpour said.
Ms. Malekpour also questioned the televised confessions her brother made in 2010, in which he admitted to all of the charges against him. She said the confessions were extracted under duress: "All the evidence they have against him is from his confessions,â she said. âSaeed 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 theyâre 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 joined the United States and European countries in stepping up sanctions on Iran in recent months, amid mounting concern as to the nature of the Islamic Republicâs nuclear program and in response to the country's abysmal human rights record. In a 17 January statement, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird condemned the Iranian Supreme Court's decision. (Sources: Radio Farda, 18/01/2012)