Iran suspends death sentence for Canadian resident: media reports

OTTAWA – Ottawa says it welcomes reports that Iran has suspended the death sentence for a Canadian resident.

The published reports have not been confirmed. A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs says Canada has “long called for clemency” for Saeed Malekpour, a computer programmer who was facing execution on charges of developing and promoting porn websites.

Various western media outlets cited a report in the semi-official Iranian news agency Mehr that they said reported Malekpour’s sentence was suspended after he “repented.”

The Mehr story, which could not be found on the agency’s English-language website, reportedly cites his lawyer as the source of the news.

His supporters, including his wife who now lives in Richmond Hill, Ont., have said he was arrested in Iran in October 2008 after a trip to visit his ailing father.

Malekpour was born in Iran but became a permanent Canadian resident in 2004.

Similar reports emerged last year when defence lawyers told the Guardian newspaper the conviction was quashed after they presented the court with expert evidence.

But subsequent media reports said the death sentence was confirmed, prompting Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to publicly call for Malekpour’s release.

“Canada is deeply concerned about reports that Iranian citizen Saeed Malekpour’s death sentence has been confirmed by the Iranian authorities,” the minister said in a statement on Jan. 29.

“His case is but one example of the refusal by Iranian authorities to respect their international human rights obligations.”

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