The Case of Saeed Malekpour: Web Developer Jailed Since 2008 (Updated 2/16/12)

Oct 31, 20100 comments

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

Previous Actions

Send e-letters to Canadian officials Participate in the Phone Campaign Send e-letters to world leaders

Read below for more ways to help highlight the case of Saeed Malekpour.

Update (11/4/10): A take action video can now be found below. Please share it with your networks!

Update (11/3/10): Click here to watch an interview with Saeed’s wife on CBC (begins at minute 4:36).

Update (11/2/10): Read a new interview with Saeed’s wife on RFE/RL.

Update (10/29/10): Saeed’s trial was on October 26. According to his wife, his sentence will be handed out in the next 8 days. She also reported that both Saeed and his lawyer were greatly angered during the trial, with the judge refusing all of their requests. Saeed’s wife also explained that her husband’s lawyer maintained in court that “There is no firm evidences in [Saeed’s] case and to me he is innocent.”

On a more hopeful note, the head of Tehran’s judiciary department, Alireza Avaee, submitted an official letter to the Judge encouraging him to allow Saeed and his lawyer access to IT technicians.

The original e-letter has been updated to reflect the developments in Saeed’s case. A second letter targeted solely at Canadian officials is also now available. Lodge your protests in the next week and urge not just world leaders, but Saeed’s actual country of permanent residence, to step-up and make noise on his behalf.

Update (10/20/10): Read the October 19 interview with Saeed Malekpour’s wife in English or Farsi.

Find the embed code for this video here:

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Name: Saeed Malekpour, Website Developer & Programmer Age: 35 Case Status: Detained since October 2008 for “Internet offenses.” Trial scheduled for October 26, 2010 Background Saeed Malekpour is a 35-year-old prisoner of conscience who was imprisoned in October of 2008 while visiting his terminally ill father in Iran, for case of  relating to “internet offenses.” The charges brought against Saeed 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.” He could be charged as “Corrupter of the Earth” (Mofsed fel-Arz), a charge that is punishable by the death sentence. Saeed continues to deny these vague allegations.

Saeed Malekpour, detained since October 2008

In an open letter, Saeed described the physical and psychological tortures at the hands of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Cyber Army which pressured him to false confessions. Since his arrest, Saeed remains confined in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison without indictment or access to a lawyer. Saeed has spent more than 12 months in solitary confinement and denied books, newspapers, and contact with the outside world.

Saeed graduated from Sharif University of Technology with a Bachelors degree in Material Engineering. He worked as a technical expert at Iran Khodro (the country’s biggest car manufacturer), as a technical inspector in a private corporation, and later as a material research associate for a metallurgical research center, RMRC in Tehran.

In 2004, Saeed and his wife moved to Canada, where he became a permanent resident. He began work as a freelance website developer & programmer responsible for developing only parts of websites or portions involving, for example, IT system management and system security.

While working as developer in Canada, Saeed designed a program that would allow his clients to upload pictures, and as is a common courtesy in programming, included his name and info in the file.

This program, Saeed’s wife – Dr. Fatimeh Eftekhari – explains, was used in an adult content website WITHOUT Saeed’s knowledge or approval. “The only recognizable name in the program was Saeed’s,” she continued, “which led to his arrest” and to the accusations claiming that Saeed was responsible for the development and administration of the website.

Interview with Saeed Malekpour’s wife, Dr. Fatemeh Eftekhari In an interview with Committee of Human Rights Reporters in May 2010, Dr. Eftekhari addressed her husband’s current situation:

“… Saeed is not completely aware of the details of the accusations made against him. Since upon his arrest he was coerced into signing several blank sheets of paper. During the 17 months that the authorities were carrying out the investigation they filled in the sheets however they deemed fit and created the allegations that my husband is now denying…”

In her initial e-mail, she further detailed her husband’s case:

We want a fair trial where the basic rights of the defendant, my husband, be preserved. My husband is locked up in prison for two years and judiciary officials called it ‘temporarily’ detention! He is accused of something he absolutely didn’t do and the evidence was kind of shaky to begin with. There are too many false accusations that they are not even technically possible. While Tehran’s prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for my husband, judge Moghiseh does not even give permission to Saeed for accessing the resources he needs to disprove his accusations. He does not authorize Saeed to read his case or meet his lawyer regularly while Saeed himself is not completely aware of the details of his accusations. How then they call this fair trial?! Saeed’s case is an internet law case and full of technical terms. Not only the assigned judge, Mr. Moghiseh, is not an expert on this field, but he also constantly declines Saeed’s request for judiciary-trusted IT experts to study and investigate his case for technically impossible allegations. It seems to us that Judge Moghiseh has completely trusted the interrogators. I think that is why he does not even listen to my husband’s defense during court hearings. He actually has no honor and no respect for the defendant and I believe this judge has no ability to be held accountable for his judgment.

Saeed Malekpour’s open letter to the IRI’s judiciary In March 2010, Saeed wrote an open letter addressed to the Iran judiciary. In his letter he described the torture, interrogation and forced confessions:

“…A large portion of my confession was extracted under pressure, physical and psychological torture, threats to me and my family, and false promises of immediate release upon giving a false confession to whatever the interrogators dictated… …In the first few months following my arrest, I would be interrogated various hours both during the day and night. The interrogations also included severe beatings. The tortures were carried out either in the “technical office” outside the prison or in the interrogations office in ward 2-A… Most of the time, the tortures were performed by a group. 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 to a false confession in front of the camera based on their scenarios. Sometimes, they used extremely painful electrical shock that would paralyze me temporarily. Once in October 2008, the interrogators stripped me while I was blindfolded and threatened to rape me with a bottle of water… …One of those very days, as a result of being kicked, punched, and lashed with cables on my head and face, my face became very swollen. I lost consciousness several times, but each time they would wake me up by splashing water on my face [and continued with the torture]. That night, they returned me to my cell. At the end of the night, I realized my ear was bleeding. I banged on the door of my cell, but nobody came. The next day, while half of my body was paralyzed…  For 20 days, the left side of my body was numb, and I had little control over my left arm and leg muscles. I also had difficulty walking…. … On January 24, 2009, after being subject to 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 by him. However, the physical tortures were nothing compared to the psychological torments… … constant threats to arrest and torture my wife and family if I did not cooperate, threats to kill me. They also provided me with false news of arresting my wife. My mental health was severely threatened… … I was promised – in the presence of the magistrate assigned to my case – that if I participate in their false televised confession, they would release me conditionally or on bail until the court date. They also promised that I will enjoy the maximum leniency in the prosecution case. I was promised I would receive a maximum of two years in prison. These promises were repeated many times, however, after the end of the filming sessions, they did not honor any of their promises…”

After this letter was published in March 2010, Saeed was again returned to the solitary confinement and subjected further to interrogation and torture. He was also met with false news about his sister’s “arrest” and threats of physical abuse to her. Following Saeed’s open letter, the IRI added new charges against him, including “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”.  Saeed is currently awaiting his October 26th court date.

Get Involved! Help highlight Saeed Malekpour’s case by doing any of the below: –*NEW: Send e-letters to CANADIAN officials urging them to take action on behalf of Saeed Malekpour, a permanent resident of Canada –*NEW: Join us in calling Canadian officials! Read up & participate in the Phone Campaign! Send e-letters to world leaders urging them to take action on Saeed Malekpour’s behalf. –Share Saeed’s story with your friends, family, and social networks. Pass on his open letter and make his voice heard. Encourage everyone to share his story & send e-letters! Share it on Facebook by clicking the button below. Share –Show support on Facebook by making Saeed’s badge your profile picture. Click here to download the badge. –Stay updated by reading the blog dedicated to freeing Saeed Malekpour.

Sources & Additional Information