Iranian man accused of developing porn websites faces execution

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London, Feb 10 (ANI): An Iranian web programmer, who has been accused of developing porn websites, is now facing imminent execution after he allegedly confessed to the crime under torture.

Saeed Malekpour, 35, a permanent resident of Canada who was arrested in October 2008 after his arrival in Tehran, was charged in connection with developing and promoting porn websites.

He has been convicted of designing and moderating adult content websites, acting against the national security, insulting and desecrating the principles of Islam, and agitating the public mind.

Malekpour's wife, Fatemeh Eftekhari, said her husband has been informed of the verdict and has been transferred to solitary confinement for the sentence to be administered if the Supreme Court sanctions it.

She says her husband was a web programmer who had written photo uploading software that was used in a porn website without his knowledge.

Last week prosecutor general Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi told reporters in Tehran that two people had been sentenced to death for running porn websites, without naming the convicts.

"Two administrators of porn sites have been sentenced to death in two different court branches and the verdicts have been sent to the Supreme Court for confirmation," the Guardian quoted Dolatabadi as saying.

Malekpour, who has been kept in Tehran's notorious Evin prison for the past two years, was arrested by plainclothes officers and was initially kept in solitary confinement for almost a year without access to legal representation.

A year after his arrest Malekpour was put on state television to confess, but he later retracted the confessions in a letter sent from inside prison in which he said they were taken under duress.

"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 in the letter.

"Once in October 2008 the interrogators stripped me while I was blindfolded and threatened to rape me with a bottle of water.

"While I remained blindfolded and handcuffed, several individuals armed with cables, batons, and their fists struck and punched me. At times, they would flog my head and neck.

"Such mistreatment was aimed at forcing me to write what the interrogators were dictating, and to compel me to play a role in front of the camera based on their scenarios," he stated.

Eftekhari feels that her husband has been unjustly charged and condemned.

"Even if my husband's charges were true, which they are not, it's hard to imagine why he should be sentenced to death," she said.

"I think Iran is trying to intimidate the opposition or any sign of protest by sentencing an unprecedented numbers of prisoners to death," she added.

Malekpour's sentence has prompted reactions from human rights activists and organisations who have launched a campaign to save his life.

Lawrence Cannon, the Canadian foreign affairs minister, has also expressed concerns over his sentence. (ANI)

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