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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich Police respond to petition for new police agency on Lindsay Buziak murder case

Petition asks Public Safety Minister to to help find justice for slain realtor

Third time lucky for Freedom Mobile cell tower in Sooke

Council approves tower after cell provider applies multiple times

Petition calls for suspension of Victoria councillor Ben Isitt

Isitt says petition ‘does not provide a reliable barometer of public opinion’

Grave site at Ross Bay Cemetery vandalized overnight

Graffiti found on grave of Sir James Douglas

T’Sou-ke First Nation mired in legal woes over gas station development

Claims and counterclaims leave sub-contractors unpaid

Health officials confirm sixth COVID-19 case in B.C.

Woman remains in isolation as Fraser Health officials investigate

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

Resident discovers five discarded hog heads in Vancouver Island ditch

WARNING: Graphic image may be upsetting to some readers

Canadian Premier League announces 2020 home dates for eight-team circuit

Pacific FC hosts FC Edmonton on April 11 in Langford

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

COLUMN: Not an expert on First Nations government structures? Then maybe you should calm down

Consider your knowledge about First Nations governance structures before getting really, really mad

Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Supporters of the pipeline are upset only one side is being heard nationwide

Most Read