A Letter from the Family of Sa'id Malekpur : An Iranian Prisoner on Death Row
The Boroumand Foundation's note: Sa'id Malekpur, a 35-year-old web designer and permanent resident of Canada since 2004, travelled to Iran in 2008 in order to visit his ailing father. Whilst in Iran, he was arrested by Revolutionary Guard forces. Prior to his arrest, he had created a program enabling users to upload photos on websites. That program had then been used to post pornographic images, which he said had happened without his knowledge. Later in November 2010, Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Mr. Malekpur to death stemming from charges of “management of pornographic sites, insulting the clergy, insulting the leadership, insulting the president, affiliation with anti-government groups, and corruption on earth.” Human rights groups have reported that he was tortured while being held for more than a year in solitary confinement in Evin Prison. His case was the object of an international campaign protesting his death sentence and calling for his release. The present text is an appeal by Sa'id Malekpur's family that was translated by the Boroumand Foundation.
" Sa’id Malekpur, born in June 1975, graduated from Sana’ti Sharif University in the field of Metallurgy Engineering. He was a Technical Officer at the Iran Khodro and Razi Research Center and one of the controllers (inspectors) at the Garma Felez Company. He and his wife immigrated to Canada in 2005 to pursue their studies. Sa’id also worked as a website designer and programmer for a number of people.
On October 4, 2008, Sa’id travelled to Iran to visit his father who was ill at the time. He was arrested by some unidentified individuals three days later and was taken to an unknown place. For months, the family remained unaware of why he was arrested and where he was detained. After many attempts to get information about him the family found out that he was arrested by the Cyber Army of the Revolutionary Guards’ Forces (Sepah Pasdaran).
After months of solitary confinement in section 2-A of Sepah Prison, during which Sa’id was subjected to mental and physical pressures and forced into making false confessions, the [authorities] accused him of creating and managing obscene websites. Based on his confessions, Branch 28 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court, headed by Mr. Moghise (Moghayese), charged him with corruption on earth and sentenced him to death.
He has now spent three years and three months in temporary detention out of which 18 months were in solitary confinement in section 2-A of Sepah Prison, and has been subjected to excruciating mental and physical pressures. Sa’id has been kept in a solitary detention by the Prosecutor’s Office for investigating Computer Crimes for more than a year despite the fact that according to Article 3 (part T) of the law for Establishing a Public and Revolutionary Court, ratified in 2004 with its subsequent amendments, states that “Temporary detention of an accused shall not exceed four months”. However, Sai’d’s lawyers, who could only see him during two sessions at the court, appealed the issued verdict. The Supreme Court voided the sentence due to the flaws in the investigation and returned it to Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court to be re-examined.
Since then, the Revolutionary Guards have used the media to launch a propaganda campaign against Sa’id, a prisoner who is already in their claws. They have gone so far as to call for the execution the Supreme Court judge who voided the death penalty verdict, accusing him of being influenced by Westerners!!
In a show trial on October 2, 2011, surprisingly and in spite of the request of the lawyers and the accused to have official experts of the Judiciary during the trial to look into and eliminate the technical shortcomings of the case, Sai’d’s interrogators testified at the trial as experts. The court did not provide the lawyers or the accused with the experts’ analysis and issued the death penalty verdict again. Five other defendants were also brought to court to testify against Sa’id. It was clear that these people, who feared for their lives and were at risk of being arrested, said whatever the Revolutionary Guards told them to say. In this regard, the lawyer noticed discrepancies’ in the testimonies, which the interrogators could not justify in a convincing way.
Although the crimes within this case are all internet-based, there is no technical expert involved. They have coerced Sa’id into making confessions that are technically impossible and an expert can verify that these crimes are unreal. But the judge’s refusal to have a technical expert present and to send the accused to the forensic office to get confirmation of the fact that he was tortured is evidence of the fear of exposing a case based on trumped-up charges. Who are the individuals who fear such revelations?
Unfortunately, the trial started with the judge insulting Sa’id and even his lawyer. This in and of itself reveals additional pressure on Sa’id and is indicative of the negative propaganda launched by the Revolutionary Guards against him.
The Revolutionary Guards’ interference in the judicial process to impose its views on the judges is déjà vu. The court denied the defendant’s attorneys access to the files until one week before the trial. They were not even allowed to make copies of the file’s content, which consisted of 25 volumes with 200 pages each. They were only permitted to read this voluminous file in the presence of the court clerk within three to four days. Interestingly enough, the file was in possession of the interrogators for three to four months outside the courthouse, allowing them time to study and re-examine [the files] again. Unfortunately, the judge’s insufficient knowledge about the technical aspects of computers and the internet allowed the interrogators’ imagination to run wild and thus gave them a free hand in bringing unfounded accusations. Further, Iranians’ sensitivity to these kinds of issues, based on their religion or traditions, became a good tool for the Revolutionary Guards’ Cyber Army [sometimes referred to as the Cyber Group] in their propaganda campaign. In this case, which is more like a pre-determined scenario, the Iranian people’s sensitivity to moral depravity and sexual issues turned into an advantage for the Revolutionary Guards’ Cyber Army, whose competence in discovering this corrupt band became the object of public admiration. The ironic genius of the [Revolutionary Guards’ Cyber Army agents], was that they included, as evidence in the case, some [physical] copies of the Playboy magazine (the American pornographic magazine published legally in America).
Despite all the above-mentioned problems, which are only a few of the existing problems in the case, the court surprisingly condemned Sa’id to death. Considering the active propaganda campaign [against] and threats [to Sa’id] by the Revolutionary Guards, the Supreme Court of Iran may very well uphold the sentence as well.
We demand justice and the respect of the law that was ratified in Iran. If the codified [existing] law, regardless of whether it is perfect or inadequate, is enforced in the case of Sa’id, he would be exonerated of all accusations.
The unjust and extralegal way Sa’id and his family have been treated so far, has not left any hope for us that the Iranian Judiciary will enforce the law or make sure that justice is done. Therefore, we call all human rights organizations and activists, as well as all the international organizations, to use all possible means to save his life and obtain the release of a human being whom we have no doubt is innocent. We demand his release by any means.
Time is short, urgent actions are needed…"