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

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

The Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open next week

Skeena Bulkley Valley MP calling for halt on sport fishing licenses to out-of-province fishers

Bachrach and Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns co-signed the letter to the Minister of Fisheries

Kitimat LNG Canada worker tests positive for COVID-19

The company announced the positive case to its workers on March 28

Bachrach to donate salary hike to community organizations

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP among growing list of MPs giving raise away amid economic crisis

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

How to cope with your mental health during a global pandemic

Becca Shears, clinical counsellor in Vanderhoof speaks about ways to deal with stress and anxiety during this time.

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Most Read