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EU Urges Halt To Iran Execution Of Canadian Resident

An undated courtesy photo of a rally in Toronto, Canada, by supporters of Saeed Malekpour
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has renewed calls for Iranian authorities to halt the execution of an Iranian man with Canadian residency.

Ashton said in a written statement on February 21 that she was "extremely saddened and concerned about reports that the execution of Iranian software designer Saeed Malekpour may be imminent."

Malekpour was charged with "designing and moderating adult-content websites" that contravene Iran's Islamic laws, and a death sentence was reportedly confirmed by Iran's highest court on January 16.

He was also charged with offenses against Iran's leadership, including spreading antiregime propaganda, insulting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, contact with foreigners and opposition groups, and blasphemy.

The Canadian government and Amnesty International have also called for Malekpour's immediate release.

Malekpour's supporters say he developed a program that allows photographs to be posted to the Internet, which was used without his knowledge for the creation of pornography sites.

Malekpour was arrested in Iran in 2008 while visiting his dying father in Iran, put on trial, and sentenced to death.

His sister, Maryam Malekpour, told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that he "just wrote a computer program that could have been used by these immoral websites or any other website." She cited fundamental flaws in the trial -- including the lack of a computer expert -- and said her appeals to Iranian judiciary officials had gone unanswered.

Malekpour appeared in a televised confession made in 2010, in which he admits to all the charges against him and which his sister says was made under duress.

Numerous Iranians released after similar confessions have later said they were tortured or tricked into confessing.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird last month condemned the high court's confirmation of Malekpour's death sentence.

Malekpour is a metallurgical-engineering graduate of Tehran's Sharif Industrial University who started to work as a web designer in Canada in 2005.

Malekpour's wife, Zohreh Eftekhari, told Radio Farda in 2010 that her husband never managed any website but was a designer whose customers were usually travel agencies or pharmacies.

With additional agency reporting
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