(Updated 02/16/12) The Case of Saeed Malekpour

Dec 15, 20100 comments

FOR THE LATEST ACTIONS AND CASE STATUS INFORMATION SEE: /2012/01/take-action-web-developer-still-at-risk-of-execution/


Updated June 14,2011:  Saeed Malekpour’s Death Sentence Thrown Own, New Trial Ordered

On June 2, the Free Saeed Malekpour Campaign delivered some outstanding news. The campaign posted that the “Iranian supreme court threw out Saeed’s death sentence and ordered a new penalty trial. Saeed [will be able to] finally meet his IT lawyer… to prepare a defense case for the new trial.”

In an interview with the Guardian, Dr. Fatemeh Eftehkari, Mr. Malekpour’s wife, said of the power of grassroots advocacy:

“Never underestimate the power of such campaigns when you can save the life of an innocent somewhere miles away from you by clicking a button or signing a letter… I remember that I was collecting signatures in support of my husband and people were reluctant to put their names on the campaign because they were pessimistic that they can save someone else’s life by doing so. Now you can see how a signature affects lives.”

Many of you took action on behalf of both individuals, whether by mailing postcards, sending e-letters, creating messages of support, and more. In total, you collectively sent hundreds of postcards to various officials. Over 3,000 individuals sent a total of 42,000 e-letters.

International awareness is key to achieving positive developments in what sometimes seems like dire cases. Your efforts, your passion, and your ongoing commitment have all contributed to carrying their stories and the injustices they face far beyond our individual computer screens.

1080 The number of times the submit button was clicked.Total messages sent 23976 When an action is submitted, one message is sent per target. For example, if you targeted the US Senate and there are no

Read More

Globe & Mail: Iran quashes death sentence for Canadian resident

The Guardian: Iran court quashes death sentence

The Star: Richmond Hill man escapes death in Iran

YorkRegion: Ruling spares life

This action is now closed.


  • 3/7/11: Added new statements of support from officials.
  • 2/14/11: E-letter to Canadian officials updated.
  • 1/26/11: PeopleWithoutNation has posted an update regarding the case of Saeed Malekpour, saying that “Since November 30, 2010 Saeed has been detained in Solitary confinement.  On January 22nd, he was taken to branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Moghiseh (the same Judge giving him the death penalty), for the trial pertaining to his second case file with the charges ‘Collusion with his wife to act against national security’ and ‘Agitating the public mind’. Neither Saeed’s family or lawyer were informed of the trial, thus he had no representation in the court. As a result, Saeed refused to defend himself during the trial and insisted that his lawyer must be present. Judge Moghiseh has given Saeed one week to inform his lawyer to arrive in branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court. However, Saeed  is unable to directly inform his lawyer since he is still held in a solitary confinement cell in ward 2-A of Evin prison (the ward is controlled by the IRGC).”
  • 1/3/11: To mark the beginning of 2011, Canada’s Lawrence Cannon issued a statement highlighting several cases, including Saeed Malekpour’s.
  • 12/23/10: Updated with a video in which several Canadian officials urge help for Saeed Malekpour. 12/22/10: Ms. Fatemeh Eftekhari (Saeed’s wife) has begun posting testimonials on her campaign’s blog.

The Case of Saeed Malekpour (Read a background here.) (See statements of support from officials here.)

Saeed Malekpour and his wife, Fatemeh Eftekhari.

In October, we posted about 35-year-old Saeed Malekpour, a permanent resident of Canada and web-developer who has been sentenced to death by the IRI. Since being detained in October 2008 for a case of “internet offenses,” he has endured forced confessions and torture, while being denied any and all legal recourse. (Read a cliff notes version of the case below, or click here to read the case in long form.) Since, OVER 1,000 people have sent e-letters urging officials to help save Saeed. Saeed’s wife, 33-year-old Dr. Fatemeh Eftekhari – a woman who has now spent three birthdays away from her husband of ten years – maintains a comprehensive blog and campaign to free Saeed. She has done a multitude of Farsi and English language media interviews to highlight and further illuminate her husband’s case. Her blog can be found here: http://peoplewithoutnation.wordpress.com. On December 4, 2010, Saeed was sentenced to death for “agitation against the regime” and “insulting the sanctity of Islam” based on false allegations of involvement in an adult content website. He was sentenced to death after a series of farcical trials during which he was not allowed regular access to legal representation and was never allowed the technical tools and IT experts needed to prove his innocence. This is further complicated by the fact that the judiciary and judge have no understanding of the technical details of the case. The Iranian judge who tried the case, Judge Moghiseh, even admitted to Saeed’s lawyer that the decision to hand down the death penalty was not his, but rather an edict from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Most worrisome is that Ms. Eftekhari further notes that the judiciary system had yet to send an official sentencing letter to Saeed’s lawyer. His lawyer only had 20 days time to appeal the verdict, and it is became clear that the revolutionary guards and judiciary intended to waste time so that the chance for a re-appeal was lost.

Statements of Support from Officials

Diane Ablonczy on Human Rights Situation in Iran in the House of Commons (February 16th, 2011):

Madam Chair, part of my duties as minister of state is to look after consular services that are provided to Canadian citizens who travel and live abroad. I want to enter this debate from the aspect of how conditions in Iran impact consular cases and our ability to assist individuals who are suffering tremendous difficulty in that country. I would like to add my congratulations and thanks to the hon. member for Mount Royal for spearheading this debate.

It is important that Canadians know what their elected representatives think, say and know about conditions around the world, particularly in a case like this where we have a very unstable situation and contravention of the values, principles and rights that we as Canadians hold dear. As background on consular matters, our government offers consular services in more than 260 locations globally. On an average day we open 686 new consular cases. These include distress situations such as medical emergencies, arrest and detention, child abductions and custody issues, and deaths abroad.

I would like to highlight for Canadians our deep concerns about many individuals in Iran who have been sentenced to death after highly questionable processes. In addition, we are troubled by the lack of co-operation from Iran when it comes to Canada’s ability to provide consular services to dual-citizen Canadians imprisoned in Iran. One of the greatest challenges is obtaining access to our citizens who are dual nationals. In fact, many countries, and Iran is one of them, do not even recognize dual nationality and do not believe that Canada has the right to access, visit, or even to any information about our citizens. Naturally, Canada firmly believes that our citizens should have access to consular services regardless of what other citizenship they may hold. We have made consular services part of Canada’s controlled engagement strategy with Iran. The Canadian embassy in Iran is committed to providing the best consular services that it can.

Unfortunately, we have had very little, if any, co-operation from the government of Iran. Fortunately we do not have many cases there, but the ones that do arise pose serious challenges. That is why we have made them important priorities for our government. Canadians may be aware that laws in other countries often limit or sometimes completely prevent the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services to Canadians of dual nationality who find themselves in distress. Nevertheless, as in the case of Iran, our government continues to press the authorities for due process, fair treatment and consular access to Canadian citizens detained in that country. Canada will continue to advocate on behalf of Canadian citizens who hold dual citizenship. I would like to talk about a couple of very high profile consular cases in Iran. One is the incarceration of a journalist, Hossein Derakhshan, who is a Canadian citizen and has been incarcerated for some time. We have made strenuous efforts to assist Mr. Derakhshan.

Last October, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the minister of foreign and European affairs of France issued a joint declaration calling for the release of Mr. Derakhshan and asking Iran to recognize his dual citizenship and guarantee consular access in accordance with the Vienna conventions. We have enlisted other partners in making our concerns heard in Iran. Our government’s position has been clear. Iran must release Mr. Derakhshan and other journalists who have been unjustly detained and sentenced, and it must allow media to report freely. We also continue to be active in the case of another Canadian citizen imprisoned in Iran, Hamid Ghassemi-Shall. Canada has actively sought and continues to seek consular access to Mr. Ghassemi-Shall.

Both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and his parliamentary secretary have been in touch with Mr. Ghassemi-Shall’s wife to discuss this very troubling case. In addition, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has written and spoken to his counterpart in Iran about the case. The promotion and protection of human rights is integral to Canada’s foreign policy, and it has been under any government in Canada.

The protection of human rights is a core element of Canadian values, which is why we are so disturbed about the recent wave of executions in Iran that my colleague from Mount Royal and others have mentioned this evening. We are also particularly concerned about Saeed Malekpour. Mr. Malekpour is a permanent resident of Canada. He has reportedly been condemned to death after software that he created was allegedly deemed offensive to the regime in Iran. He is one of many Iranian citizens and others facing a harsh sentence imposed for a questionable crime in a country that lacks respect for the rule of law and basic human rights.

As recently as two weeks ago, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs stood in this House and highlighted the case of Mr. Malekpour. Canada continues to be deeply concerned as well by the case of Ms. Ashtiani. As members know, we have taken a firm stand on this case. The House unanimously voted in November to call upon our Minister of Foreign Affairs to take the strongest possible action to demand that the Government of Iran permanently stay the execution of Ms. Ashtiani. Our government has been a relentless advocate in speaking against a regime that flagrantly abuses the fundamental rights of not only Canadians but its own citizens. We will not be silent. We will continue to speak out and denounce the inhumanity that is so unacceptable to our country and to others around the world.

Irwin Cotler on Petitions in the House of Commons (February 9th, 2011):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition on behalf of Saeed Malekpour, a permanent resident of Canada who has been languishing incommunicado in Iran in the notorious Evin Prison for two years under the shadow of death. The petitioners note that Mr. Malekpour was forced to confess to fabricated Internet-related charges after enduring repeated tortures by revolutionary guard interrogators. The petitioners also note that Mr. Malekpour has been denied access to counsel, denied access to his case file, denied the right to adduce evidence and denied any right to a fair hearing or fair trial. Recently, after his wife made public a letter written by Saeed Malekpour to the head of the judiciary detailing the tortures endured at the hands of the revolutionary guards, he was charged with “conspiring with his spouse against national security” and is now under imminent threat of execution by Iranian authorities who have embarked on an unprecedented execution binge, having executed 65 people in the month of January 2011 alone. The petitioners call upon Parliament to urge the Minister of Foreign Affairs to urgently intervene on Mr. Saeed Malekpour’s behalf and to secure the suspension of this imminent execution and his release and his safety.

Martha Hall Findley: Willowdale residence urge the government to intervene on behalf of Saeed Malekpour

Ms. Martha Hall Findlay (Willowdale, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of a large number of residents of Willowdale urging the Minister of Foreign Affairs to intervene on behalf of Canadian permanent resident Saeed Malekpour, a resident of Richmond Hill who is under a death sentence in Iran, and that the government appeal to the government of Iran to provide a fair judicial process. Many Iranian Canadians in Willowdale and across Canada worry deeply about the safety and rights of friends and loved ones still in Iran. I am proud to present the petition and to express our collective concerns on their behalf and on behalf of all Canadians worried about human rights and justice in Iran.

Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon expressed concern about Iran’s human rights situation at the start of the new year. He denounced Iran for imposing draconian death sentences and unfair jail terms, urging Tehran’s incoming foreign minister to improve the country’s human rights record.

“As 2011 begins, I am deeply concerned by the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran. Iranians, like people everywhere, deserve to live in a peaceful country free of fear and persecution. “I am particularly concerned by the uncertain fate of two Canadians of dual nationality who remain in prison in Iran. There have also been reports that Saeed Malekpour, a Canadian permanent resident, has been condemned to death and that his sentence could be carried out at any time. Two young hikers, U.S. citizens Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, also remain separated from their families.

Below is video of the ‘Question Period’ during which several Canadian officials bring up Saeed Malekpour’s case. The video was posted by Richmond Hill’s MP and vocal advocate for Saeed’s release, Bryon Wilfert.

Canada’s foreign ministry has said that Saeed’s “legal process was highly questionable.” Alain Cacchione, a spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, also added: “Canada remains deeply concerned by the continued flagrant disregard of the Iranian authorities for the rights of Iranians… This appears to be another case in which someone in Iran is facing a death sentence after a highly questionable process.”

On Nov 4, 2010, MPP Reza Moridi petitioned “the Minister of Foreign Affairs to intervene on Mr. Malekpour’s behalf and appeal to the government of Iran.” (Video below)

On the occasion of Human Rights Day (December 10, 2010), Minister of Foreign Affairs issued a statement, part of which highlighted Saeed’s case:

“Today, Canada marks Human Rights Day and reaffirms Canada’s commitment to upholding the fundamental human rights of all human beings, at home and around the world. Canada has been a relentless advocate of human rights in all corners of the world. Time and again, Canada has expressed its deep concerns about the deplorable human rights situation in Iran. Canada continues to take the lead in bringing forward UN resolutions on Iran, which send a strong message to Iranian authorities that the international community will never abandon the Iranian people in their quest for human rights. We continue to call on Iran to provide fair and due process for all its citizens, including Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and Saeed Malekpour, as well as the many others in Iranian prisons for their religious, political or social beliefs.”

Bryon Wilfert – Richmond Hill, ON December 15, 2010

Mr. Speaker, for two years this government has done nothing while Canadian resident, Saeed Malekpour, has languished in Iran’s notorious Evin prison. It did nothing when he was kidnapped and thrown into jail, nothing when he was forced to confess under torture, and nothing when he was sentenced to death. The Prime Minister’s Office and the Minister of Foreign Affairs have voiced concerns about other detainees who have done nothing in terms of connections to this country, while Mr. Malekpour has received barely a passing mention by the parliamentary secretary. Is this government actually prepared to do anything to save the life of Mr. Malekpour?

Bryon Wilfert has also posted on his Twitter account about Saeed’s case twice:

Posted on Twitter Conservative government has done nothing to assist a Richmond Hill resident who could be executed. Pushing the government. Posted on Twitter Raised in QP about the imprisonment of a Canadian resident in Iran who is under a death sentence. I have engaged the Iranian Embassy 3 times

Deepak Obhrai – Calgary East, AB November 17th, 2010 / 2:05 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, I wish to express my indignation at the news of the unlawful detention of Saeed Malekpour who is an Iranian citizen and a permanent resident of Canada. He returned to Iran in October 2008 to see his terminally ill father and was arrested. Currently in jail, he faces several allegations, including agitation against the Iranian government, and he has not had access to a lawyer. Mr. Malekpour’s case is but one of the many cases in which someone in Iran is facing a death sentence after a highly questionable process. The Canadian government, along with the international community, is committed to holding Iran to account for this and other violations of human rights. We continue to call on Iran to respect its domestic and international obligations and ensure fairness and due process to all its citizens and others.

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON December 13, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from a number of constituents concerning Saeed Malekpour, who is facing a potential death sentence in the Islamic Republic of Iran. He is in the Evin Prison, and he is calling upon the Minister of Foreign Affairs to intervene with the government of Iran on his behalf.

Next Steps While a great start, we must continue to urge Canadian officials, as well as UN and IRI officials, to save Saeed and help guarantee him a fair trial, access to legal representation, and access to the tools he needs to prove his innocence. Get involved, take action, spread the word, and ask your networks to do the same! With one click, one phone call, and one stamp, you can help increase international awareness regarding Saeed’s case. Continue to pressure the IRI to allow Saeed actual legal recourse, free from torture, false confessions, IRGC involvement, and further disregard for due process and basic rights. Case Summary:

  • Saeed and his wife moved to Canada in 2004 where he became a permanent resident and worked a freelance web-developer. Saeed created a picture upload program for a client. As is customary with programs and coding, he included his name and contact information in the file.
  • Around this time, all the way in Iran, the IRI has just created a “Cyber Army” to monitor the Internet in Iran. In Iran, someone used the upload program for an adult content website WITHOUT Saeed’s knowledge. The Cyber Army later targeted this site.
  • Because the owner of the site had all but vanished, the authorities could only find one name associated with any of it, Saeed’s (found in the text file of the photo upload program used without his knowing).
  • Fast-forward to October 2008, when Saeed returned to Iran to visit his dying father. He was detained shortly after arriving for “internet offenses” and allegations of running adult content websites – as well as a long series of politically motivated charges including “insulting the sanctity of Islam” and, after writing an open letter detailing the torture he suffered, “agitation against the regime.”
  • After being detained, he spent long periods of time in solitary confinement and suffered torture, threats, forced/coerced false confessions, and a series of other horrible circumstances that, in itself, should enrage the human rights community.
  • Following his October 26, 2010 trial, Saeed was sentenced to death after a series of farcical trials during which he was not allowed regular access to legal representation and was never allowed the technical tools needed to prove his innocence. This is further complicated by the fact that the judiciary and judge have no understanding of the technical details of the case.