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Execution of web programmer in Iran may be imminent

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:24 PM EST, Sat February 18, 2012
Supporters demonstrate in January for the release of Saeed Malekpour in Montreal, Quebec.
Supporters demonstrate in January for the release of Saeed Malekpour in Montreal, Quebec.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Saeed Malekpour wrote a computer program to upload photos to the internet
  • Iranian authorities claim someone else used the program to upload pornography
  • Rights groups call for the programmer's release

(CNN) -- A computer programmer from Canada faces imminent execution in Iran for the actions of another person, which he had no control over, a human rights group says.

Saeed Malekpour wrote a program to upload photos to the Internet, an accomplishment that could cost him his life, Amnesty International reported Friday. Authorities in the Islamic Republic claimed his program was used by someone else to upload pornography and charged him with "insulting and desecrating Islam."

Malekpour, who is a Toronto resident, was arrested in October 2008 while visiting relatives in Iran. He was convicted in a short trial and was sentenced to death in October 2011, according to Amnesty International.

Iran's Supreme Court confirmed the sentence on January 17. Malekpour's lawyers have been unable to ascertain the whereabouts of his court files since Tuesday and fear this could be an indicator that an executioner could carry out the sentence soon, Amnesty said. A court official suggested to the lawyers that the file had been sent to the Office for the Implementation of Sentences, according to Amnesty.

Malekpour sent a letter from prison detailing beatings and other mistreatment at the hands of Iranian prison officials to obtain a confession, said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

"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," the letter says.

Malekpour's supporters have created Facebook pages and websites in his support dating to at least 2009.

Amnesty International has requested on its website that concerned individuals write Iranian authorities inside and outside the country to demand that Malekpour not be executed.

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