Iranian Court Upholds Death Sentence for Software Designer

Last week, I blogged about protests in Geneva against the Iranian government's expanding program of Internet and satellite censorship. Taking place outside of Iran (and consisting of what appears to be a fairly small crowd from the pictures in this post), the protest was a mostly symbolic act—but we're likely to see more and stronger reactions to what Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei calls his country's soft war against Western cultural influence in the months to come.

This week the Iranian supreme court upheld the death sentence handed down to an Iranian-born Canadian resident named Saeid Malekpour, who was arrested while he was inside Iran visiting his ailing father. Malekpour is charged with "insulting the sanctity of Islam" and "corruption on earth," two regularly invoked grounds for execution in Iran, because of photo-uploading software he designed that was then "used by a porn website without his knowledge," reports The Guardian.

This is equivalent to Mark Zuckerberg being put on trial because someone uploaded a nudie pic to his or her Facebook profile.

According to the Amnesty International report, there were at least 600 executions in Iran last year, compared with 43 in the United States. Last year Iranian-Dutch citizen Zahra Bahrami was executed before Dutch officials could move for her release from Iranian custody, and recently, American citizen and former U.S. Marine Amir Mirza Hekmati was sentenced to death in Iran on highly questionable espionage charges.

Confessions from both Hekmati and Malekpour were broadcast on national television, but the letter Malekpour wrote after more than a year in solitary confinement in the notorious Evin Prison sheds serious doubt on his and any other political prisoner's confession:

Some of the confessions they forced me to make were so ridiculous and far-fetched that they are not even possible. For example, they asked me to falsely confess to purchasing software from the UK and then posting it on my website for sale. I was forced to add that when somebody visited my website, the software would be, without his/her knowledge, installed on their computer and would take control of their webcam, even when their webcam is turned off. Although I told them that what they were suggesting was impossible from a technological point of view, they responded that I should not concern myself with such things.

He also elaborated on the conditions under which his confession was extracted:

While I remained blindfolded and handcuffed, several individuals armed with their fists, cables, and batons 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...Sometimes, they used extremely painful electrical shock that would paralyze me temporarily. Once in October 2008, the interrogators stripped me while I was blindfolded and threatened to rape me with a bottle of water.

Read Malekpour's full letter here (Persian and English).

The recent increase in Internet censorship, arrests, and intimidation are widely viewed as an effort by the government to preemptively suppress protests during the country's upcoming parliamentary elections in March. Considering the massive protests following the highly disputed 2009 presidential election, the results of which were apparently counted at miraculous speed and announced only two hours after ballots were cast, it's not hard to understand why the ruling powers might be a little nervous.

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  • Tman||

    If there was a more fucked up lynchpin than Iran and the Mullahs in the struggle to maintain world peace I haven't heard of it yet.

    Recently they played the "no you can't look in this warehouse that may or may not be a design space for ICBM's but we have some lovely parting gifts" with the IAEA. They are making Saddam look downright honest.

    This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it.

  • Paul||

    This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it.

    I don't know about you, but you might cut the kid some slack...

  • bi-sexual||

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  • Sheldon Richman||

  • ||

    there were at least 600 executions in Iran last year, compared with 43 in the United States.

    ok, but we have more people in prison, so, ummm....USA, USA, USA!!!

  • Iran & TX Fundies||

    We luvs sum executions anywhere !

  • Michael J. Totten||

  • ||

    it's not hard to understand why the ruling powers might be a little nervous.

    Not sure how nervous they should be about domestic threats to their power when they're about to get a thorough American bombing-back-to-the-stone-age sometime this year.

  • sarcasmic||

    715 per 100K vs Iran's paltry 226 per 100K.

    http://www.nationmaster.com/gr.....per-capita

    What a bunch of pussies.

  • Paul||

    Iranian Court Upholds Death Sentence for Software Designer

    Back in my software engineering days, there were a few who should have gotten this stentence.

    But back to being serious...

  • Paul II||

    Are you implying that software design has improved much since you were involved?

    Maybe you were the problem then.

  • Iranian ex-pat||

    This week the Iranian supreme court upheld the death sentence handed down to an Iranian-born Canadian resident named Saeid Malekpour, who was arrested while he was inside Iran visiting his ailing father.

    Note to self: think long and hard about visiting dear old dad back home.

  • Julie||

    His father died while Malekpour the younger was in prison. His confessions were aired sometime during the mourning period. So, yes, think twice.

  • Federal Regulator||

    This is equivalent to Mark Zuckerberg being put on trial because someone uploaded a nudie pic to his or her Facebook profile.

    Hmm...

  • Bee Tagger||

    It would be like the RIAA threatening an old lady with financial death because her granddaughter illegally downloaded a Katy Perry song on her computer without her knowledge.

  • Copernicus||

    hmmm indeed. I don't think "equivalent" is the correct word to use.

    In this case, I would think Facebook would have a higher burden since they actually control the database.

    A better analogy would be: "It would be like the CEO of Ford Motors being put on trial because a Ford Focus was used in a car bombing."

  • Federal Regulator||

    Although I told them that what they were suggesting was impossible from a technological point of view, they responded that I should not concern myself with such things.

    Hmm...

  • Ayatollah Khameni||

    It's the law in Iran. You faggots and old ladies in the Great Satan are always going on about the "rule of law" in your country. Why can't you respect our country's laws against sodomy and pornography?

  • ||

    This has nothing to do with any law against sodomy and pornography. This man got sentenced to death for writing an innocent piece of software. This would be an unjust course of action in any country in the world, no matter the law.
    Besides, the people of Iran clearly does not respect our laws of freedom and expression and parody, as was clearly shown under the whole "muhammed" drawings controversy. So why do you expect us to respect something as physically extreme as a death sentence for something as physically harmless as depictions of sexual acts?

  • Drones||

    One, two, bombs are coming for you!

  • Drones||

    Hey, wait a momento. What a contradiction. A man is sentenced to death for developing a software that people used (not him) to upload adult porn. Still, they follow the pedophile muhammad. Weird..

  • Paul||

    How did Malekpour's letter get out of the Iranian prison system (I haven't read all the linked material).

  • Julie||

    It's unclear, but we at least know his wife distributed the letter. Scroll to the middle of the post on the Free Saeed Malekpour blog: https://freesaeedmalekpour.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/saeed-malekpours-wife-fearful-of-a-predetermined-verdict-by-iranian-supreme-court/

  • Steve||

    ONE SIDE IRAN JAILERS!

    STEVE GET RIGHT OF FIRST RAPE WITH SAEED WIFE!!!

  • romulus augustus||

    We laugh, but I'll bet we could find a fundie or two who thinks gays should be stoned to death.

  • Tman||

    Very true. But the whole goddamn government of Iran is run by fundamentalists that would make Pat Robertson look downright liberal.

  • Paul||

    We laugh, but I'll bet we could find a fundie or two who thinks gays should be stoned to death.

    We do laugh at them in this country, because their social views don't carry any practical weight.

  • Ayatollah Khameni||

    So whatcha gonna do about it, you faggoty kike?

    Are you planning to rescue your fellow faggots and kikes somehow, or are you just a coward talking out that heavily used corn hole of yours?

  • Drones||

    What your head dude. Uncle sam is coming for ya.

  • ¢||

    We laugh, but I'll bet we could find a fundie or two who thinks gays should be stoned to death.

    No one's going to bet that you can't find three Muslims.

  • Christ on a Cracker||

    Sometimes, they used extremely painful electrical shock that would paralyze me temporarily. Once in October 2008, the interrogators stripped me while I was blindfolded and threatened to rape me with a bottle of water
    I've heard the reason for these tactics is that they work.

    The US has no moral highground here.

  • Mahdi on a Matzo||

    Remember, if Iran decides to nuke New York, Ron Paul wants you to know he understands and has great empathy for Iran.

    As for you nuke victims, fuck you. You deserved to get nuked anyway for all your interventionist imperialist neo-con war-mongering, you Israel-firster Zionazis!

  • ||

    i have an idea...go tell all the jews that have more money than i'll make in 20 years to stop pulling my governments strings? and maybe they will listen to you...i mean its not like i can do anything about it

  • Smoking Mushroom Cloud Gun||

    Mahdi, if you live in New York, it might just be worth it.

  • Kim Dotcom||

    "This is equivalent to Mark Zuckerberg being put on trial because someone uploaded a nudie pic to his or her Facebook profile."

    Tell me about it.

  • Almanian||

    Canadian resident

    So in this case, A-OK.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Seizing a Canadian citizen and sentencing him to death on bogus, political charges is an act of war. I now have no problem turning the place into glass.

  • Ron Paul||

    How dare you! HOW DARE YOU!!! Have you no shame? Have you at last no shame? You... you... INTERVENTIONIST! [Head explodes!]

  • Typical Ron Paul Shill||

    When are all you Israel-firsters going to stop publishing the Israel Lobby's play-the-victim propaganda about this Islamophobic turncoat statist Saeid Malekpour, and quit helping those slanderous imperialist neo-con warmongers pass more sanctions against the innocent kite-flying liberty-loving sovereign country of Iran in preparation for another illegal American war for oil?

    If Iran wants to execute a filth-peddling Israeli fifth-columnist, what business is that of yours!?

  • Ron Paul||

  • ||

    This article is based on the fact that Iranian Supreme Court "upheld the death sentence" for this man, with a hyperlink on that phrase going to a Guardian article entitled "Iran court quashes death sentence in 'porn' case".

    I think the author misinterpreted the meaning of the word 'quashed'.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    The author just saw "Iran" and his neo-con rage circuit went into overdrive, rendering him incapable of actually reading the sentence.

  • JamesKirk||

    You're looking at the link to an old article from last year where his death sentence was suspended. At the end of that paragraph is a link to the new article where his death sentence is upheld: http://www.guardian.co.uk/worl.....programmer

  • ||

    Ah. I see now she linked to the current article at the end of that paragraph.

  • Timothy Wood||

    Quashed: Reject as invalid, esp. by legal procedure: "his conviction was quashed on appeal.

    You're post is completely the opposite of what actually happened.

  • Cary||

  • Julie||

    Let me edit that so no other impatient readers get confused.

  • galtshrugged||

    I am usually against war, but Islam is a cancer that needs to be wiped out.

  • ||

    Can we have the Judge who handed down the sentence tried and convicted for crimes against Humanity? Then we sentence him to death, and assasinate him. That will make them think twice about doing it again. Sentencing innocent persons to death, that is what Hitler did, weren't some of his henchmen sentenced to death at Nuernburg?

  • ||

    Can we have the Judge who handed down the sentence tried and convicted for crimes against Humanity? Then we sentence him to death, and assasinate him. That will make them think twice about doing it again. Sentencing innocent persons to death, that is what Hitler did, weren't some of his henchmen sentenced to death at Nuernburg?

  • ||

    Can we have the Judge who handed down the sentence tried and convicted for crimes against Humanity? Then we sentence him to death, and assasinate him. That will make them think twice about doing it again. Sentencing innocent persons to death, that is what Hitler did, weren't some of his henchmen sentenced to death at Nuernburg?

  • Neocon Educational Institute||

    Please pay attention, herpy derpy war-mongers.

    Q1 - Does Iran suck?

    A1 - Yes

    Q2 - Does Iran suck so much that we should borrow a few hundred billion from China, lose a few thousand soldiers, maim tens of thousands more, and kill tens of thousands of innocent civilians?

    A2 - No

    Q3 - Given the scenario in Q2 occurs, will America's long term security be enhanced?

    A3 - No

    Q4 - Will the answers to the above kill the non-stop war boner that the herpy derpy neocons have?

    A4 - Unlikely.

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