Saeed Malekpour, a man imprisoned in Iran since 2008, arrived back in Canada on Friday, according to a Twitter account ran by his sister. (Twitter/@FreeSaeedM)

Canadian resident imprisoned in Iran since 2008 returns after escape

Saeed Malekpour, a Victoria web programmer, escaped through undisclosed third country

A man imprisoned in Iran for more than a decade is back in Canada after escaping while on a temporary release.

According to Payam Akhavan, a law professor at McGill University who’s been part of a team lobbying for the release of Saeed Malekpour, Malekpour escaped through a third country while on furlough.

“The Iranians released him on furlough, so it was only a temporary release, but then he seized that opportunity to leave the country without the knowledge of either his lawyer or his family in Iran. They were completely unaware,” Akhavan said.

Malekpour, who was a web programmer in Victoria and who had permanent resident status in Canada, was arrested in Iran in 2008 on allegations that an open-source program he made allowed photos to be uploaded to pornographic websites, according to Amnesty International.

He was 33 years old and visiting his dying father at the time of the arrest. He was initially sentenced to death, but, in 2012, the sentence was changed to life imprisonment.

According to Amnesty, he, at one point, spent more than a year in solitary confinement. He also wrote in a letter dated March 2010 — published on Amnesty’s website — that he was promised conditional release or bail if he participated in a false televised confession.

His sister, Maryam Malekpour, has been spearheading a campaign, Free Saeed Now, calling for his release. A Twitter account she appears to run broke the news of his return.

“Breaking: My brother Saeed Malekpour has just arrived to Canada!” the tweet from Friday evening read. “The nightmare is finally over!”

Akhavan did not disclose the third country through which Malekpour escaped, but said the brother and sister were reunited in the third country before they flew together to Vancouver.

A spokesperson with Global Affairs Canada did not provide details on Malekpour’s return, but said in a statement that Canada welcomes the news he is back.

“Canada welcomes the news that Saeed Malekpour has been reunited with his family in Canada. We have advocated for Mr. Malekpour’s release and are pleased that he is now in Canada,” the statement read.

According to Akhavan, Malekpour’s escape was a team effort, spearheaded by his sister. The Canadian government was not responsible for getting Malekpour out of Iran, but helped ensure his papers to return were in order.

“He was a permanent resident, but after 11 years in prison, it was necessary to issue the appropriate papers so he could travel back to Canada, and I think the Canadian government was exceptionally helpful and efficient in making sure that he could travel back to Canada,” Akhavan said.

Black Press Media has reached out to Maryam Malekpour for comment.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Athlete in Focus: Nic Flinton

Like a lot of Canadians, Nic Flinton started playing hockey as soon… Continue reading

From the Free Press Archives

27 YEARS AGO (1992): The mountain pine beetle infestation was far more… Continue reading

What is your favourite Christmas movie?

Jessie Pruden 100 Mile House “They don’t have them on TV anymore.… Continue reading

100 Mile Performing Arts Society looking to take 100 Mile under the sea

The 100 Mile Performing Arts Society is looking to take the community… Continue reading

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Pacioretty scores 2, Golden Knights top Canucks 6-3

Vegas goalie Fleury gets win No. 452

B.C. VIEWS: Hunger does not end with the season

Despite innovations in food distribution, the need is still there in B.C. communities

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Most Read