A Canadian resident since 2004, web developer and blogger Saeed Malekpour was first arrested in October 2008 during a visit with his dying father in Iran. In October 2010, he was found guilty of creating and maintaining pornographic websites and encouraging corruption. Malekpour was sentenced to death at that time.
The sentence was annulled during a review of the case due to Malekpour receiving an unfair trial, then reinstated in November 2011. According to an AFP report
, Justice for Iran lawyer, Shadi Sadr was informed by Malekpour’s sister around January 19, 2012 that the death sentence was confirmed.
After his arrest, Malekpour “confessed on Iranian TV” to developing and promoting adult porn sites, according to an Associated Press report
. However, supporters of the Free Saeed Malekpour
activist group and Malekpour’s sister, Maryam, claim that he has been forced into false confessions. Supports further claim he developed programs that allowed users to upload their own photos.
reports the execution was confirmed by Iran’s Supreme Court, based on charges of “insulting and desecrating Islam.” Amnesty International also believes Malekpour may have been tortured while being held in Evin Prison and was given an unfair trial. They are strongly advocating for his release. Ann Harrison of Amnesty International issues the following statement:
“The Supreme Court should have investigated the reports of Saeed Makekpour’s torture instead of confirming his sentence. If he is held solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression, he should be released immediately and unconditionally.”
Malekpour is not the first to be arrested and charged for internet and media-related charges in Iran. In May 2008, Blogger Vahid Asghari
was arrested and held. In October 2009, he told a judge he was tortured and forced to confess, including false allegations that Hossein Derakhshan was a spy. In January 2012, Asghari was convicted of “corruption on earth" by creating a “pornographic network against Islam.”
Hossein Derakhshan, a dual Canadian and Iranian national and high profile blogger known for bringing blogging to Iran, was arrested in November 2008. In September 2010, he was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison.
Journalist and blogger Parastoo Dokouhaki and Simin Nematollahi, a news website contributor, were arrested at different times in their own homes. They were both charged with “propaganda against the system.” Journalist and photographer Sahamaddin Bourghani was arrested earlier this week for unknown reasons.
Hossein Ronaghi Maleki is serving a 15-year sentence for his internet writings and possible for being "instrumental in disseminating anti-filters and proxies on Facebook which then quickly spread to beat the internet censorship and filtering."
It is reported that most of these journalists and bloggers, like Saeed Malekpour, were forced to confess on Iranian television under hostile circumstances and are being held at Evin Prison.
On January 10, 2012, Amnesty International reported
, “The government has officially acknowledged executing 17 people already this year.” Amnesty International believed the total to be closer to 39.
On January 19, 2012, the number of officially acknowledge executions jumped to 31, with Amnesty International information suggesting 53 total executions in the first month of 2012.