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Sunday 15 January 2017
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are blocking the granted furlough (temporary release) request of Saeed Malekpour, an Iranian-born Canadian resident who has been in imprisoned in Tehran since 2008, his sister told the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Maryam Malekpour, who lives in Canada, also criticized the Canadian government for failing to bring her brother back home.
“Initially, we, including Saeed and his lawyer, requested furlough but the prosecutor would not agree,” she said. “Now, both the prosecutor and the prison warden have agreed, but the Revolutionary Guards is opposed.”
“Saeed’s lawyers wanted to request a review of his case, but he had heard that the Revolutionary Guards could restore his death sentence, so we decided not to do it,” she added. “The Revolutionary Guards are not happy that he was not executed.”
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corp is a powerful, ultra-conservative branch of the military founded soon after Iran’s 1979 revolution to protect the newly born Islamic Republic from domestic and foreign threats.
Saeed Malekpour, 40, was a computer programmer and web developer living as a permanent resident in Canada before he was arrested during a visit to Iran in 2008 and charged with “insulting the sacred” for allegedly creating an online pornographic network. In September 2010, a Revolutionary Court sentenced him to death, but the sentence was ultimately commuted from death to life imprisonment in August 2013.
In a letter sent from prison in March 2010, Saeed Malekpour said his confession, which was later televised, was given under physical and psychological torture.
“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,” he wrote.
Televising forced “confessions,” often extracted under the threat of or actual torture, is a common practice in Iran.
No Action by Canada
“I was initially very happy when the government changed and the Liberals came to power (in September 2015),” Maryam Malekpour told the Campaign. “I wrote many letters to the foreign affairs ministry and the prime minister’s office, but all they did was express regret that they could not do anything for Saeed because he’s not a Canadian citizen.”
“So far, I haven’t seen any action being taken by the Canadian government,” she added.
“The change of government in Iran (in 2013) and the coming to power of [President Hassan] Rouhani has not made a difference to Saeed’s situation either,” continued Maryam Malekpour. “We are living a nightmare that seems to have no end. My own personal life has been destroyed. My brother got cancer. My mother is not acting normal. None of us are normal any more and we will never be normal. It wasn’t just Saeed whose life has been burned to the ground.”
Maryam Malekpour added that her brother has been in Evin Prison’s Ward 8 since 2013, and tries to keep himself busy with wood carving and exercise, but is struggling to mentally cope with his situation.