Accessibility links

Breaking News

Web Developer Returns To Canada After 11 Years In Iranian Prison

Malekpour was imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin prison.

Saeed Malekpour, an Iranian-born web developer with permanent residency in Canada, has left Iran where he was imprisoned for 11 years and returned to Canada.

Malekpour was serving a life sentence after being convicted of operating an adult-content website.

He was arrested in December 2008 while in Iran to visit his ailing father. He was initially sentenced to death, but the sentence was later reduced to life in prison.

Malekpour’s sister posted a video on Twitter confirming he had returned to Canada.

“My brother Saeed Malekpour has just arrived to Canada,” Maryam Malekpour wrote on Twitter on August 2.

"The nightmare is finally over," she added, thanking all those who supported the family.

She did not provide details on the circumstances of his release.

Iranian authorities said Malekpour, 44, had fled Iran while on short-term release from prison.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said on August 3 that Malekpour was on a "three-day prison leave" and "barred from leaving the country.”

"Apparently, he has used illegal ways to leave the country," Esmaili was quoted as saying by state media.

Payam Akhavan, an expert in international law at Montreal's McGill University and a former United Nations prosecutor who has been involved in the case for years, said that the Iranian government released Malekpour on furlough a few days ago after coming under pressure.

“He was temporarily released from prison in Iran following pressure from United Nations human-rights bodies, and he was to report to the prison authorities again. But instead he left the country and came to Canada through a third country,” Akhavan was quoted as saying by Canadian media.

Akhavan said that no one in Iran, including his family members and lawyer, was aware of Malekpour's plan to leave the country.

Malekpour had said that the program he developed for posting photographs to the Internet was used without his knowledge to create porn sites.

Malekpour was imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin prison where he had been reportedly beaten and held in solitary confinement.

With reporting by AFP, CBC, The Star, and Mizanonline
  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.