Saeed Malekpour, a 43-year-old engineer and web designer, has been imprisoned in notorious Evin prison in Iran since 2008. He was sentenced to death following a conviction of masterminding an online pornography network. According to Malekpour’s supporters, he developed an Internet photo-sharing tool which was used without his knowledge to share pornographic photos. He was accused by Iranian authorities to “discredit the country’s clerical regime”.
Malekpour confessed under duress, while he was tortured and held in solitary confinement for months. His death sentence was eventually commuted in 2014 to life imprisonment.
Recently, Malekpour’s health has deteriorated and in early October 2018 he suffered a severe heart attack. His relatives are deeply worried for his health and therefore for his chances to survive the tough conditions he’s subjected to in Evin prison.
Maryam Malekpour, Saeed’s sister, had to flee Iran due to his sentence. She testifies that the IRGC issued a warrant for her arrest after she spoke to journalists about the case, forcing her to leave Iran. She found refuge in Canada under a special visa program for endangered women. Today, Maryam is a Canadian citizen. In a letter to Canadian authorities, she stated her worries:
“Saeed’s overall physical situation is dangerous and he requires proper care before he suffers further complications. He had no major health issues prior to prison. His heart problems, prostatitis and arthritis, arose during his imprisonment…
I understand the situation is difficult for everyone involved; the Iranian authorities seem to be dead set on keeping Saeed. But imagine what Saeed and I are going through every day”
According to Freedom House’s Freedom of the Net report for the year 2018, Iran is marked as ‘Not Free’. Political and social content is being blocked and bloggers are being arrested for online expression. According to the report, during anti-government protests in January 2018, the government blocked access and data outside Iran, slowed down Internet connections and blocked social platforms Telegram and Instagram. Regulations introduced in August 2017 demand social media messaging apps to “work with Iranian authorities to obtain licenses”, obligating them to move their data centers into Iran.