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

Pink Shirt Day uplifting for West Shore RCMP

Members of the West Shore RCMP have scheduled a variety of activities with students Feb. 26

No dogs allowed off-leash at Luxton Fairgrounds in Langford

New sign placed by Metchosin Farmers Institute on Wednesday, Feb. 19

UPDATED: Demonstrators plan to shut down Pat Bay Highway Wednesday afternoon

Adam Olsen, MLA, says issue should be taken to province, not communities

Wear your rose-coloured glasses for the second annual Pink Shirt Gala

Anti-bullying event promises pink drinks, food and shirts

Pink Shirt Day originator to speak at Monterey school in Oak Bay

Travis Price continues anti-bullying movement with Island tour

Rail disruptions expected to continue after new protest sites emerge

Nationwide rail and road blockades have been popping up for weeks

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

51 health professionals send letter to Trudeau, Horgan panning northern B.C. pipeline

They point to studies about the health and climate change risks from pipeline

Fake meat and a latte? Starbucks adds Beyond Meat in Canada

The Seattle roaster has talked about introducing plant-based patties in the U.S., but has yet to do so

Groundhogs got it wrong: spring isn’t coming soon, Weather Network says

The only part of B.C. to warm up early will be Victoria

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Most Read