An Iranian-born Canadian resident has escaped to return to Canada after being detained in Iran for 11 years.
Saeed Malekpour, a web programmer from Victoria who had permanent resident status in Canada, was arrested in 2008 and accused of setting up a website that was used to post pornography. Malekpour maintained his innocence and said he was tortured in prison to force a confession to crimes against Islam.
Payam Akhavan, an expert in in international law at McGill University who has been involved in the case for years, said that the Iranian government released Malekpour on furlough a few days ago after coming under intense pressure.
Malekpour then escaped Iran through a third country that is not being revealed. He is now in Vancouver.
Akhavan said that no one who knew Malekpour in Iran, including his family members and lawyer, was aware of his plan to leave the country.
The news of his release first broke on Friday, when Malekpour’s sister, Maryam, who has long advocated for his release, tweeted that he had landed in Canada.
“The nightmare is finally over!” she wrote. “Together we prevailed.”
Breaking: My brother Saeed Malekpour has just arrived to Canada! The nightmare is finally over! Thank you Canada for your leadership. And thank you to every single person who supported us throughout this time.Together we prevailed. ✌ pic.twitter.com/NyfiU65yQ9
— Maryam Malekpour (@FreeSaeedM) August 3, 2019
In a written statement, a spokesperson for Global Affairs wrote that “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.”
Global Affairs declined to comment further on the case, citing privacy concerns.
According to a written statement from Amnesty International written prior to his release, Malekpour had travelled to Iran in 2008 to visit his ailing father.
While detained, Malekpour reported that he was blindfolded, handcuffed and beaten in order to force a confession.