Tell Justin Trudeau: You can free Saeed Malekpour, Web developer and political prisoner.

Saeed Malekpour is a Canadian developer who was seized from the streets of Tehran by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in 2008. His crime? He wrote open source code for Web image uploads that was later used without his knowledge by an Iranian pornography site. Tell Justin Trudeau to fight for his freedom.

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To: justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca, stephane.dion@parl.gc.ca, peter.kent@parl.gc.ca Subject: Please act to bring Saeed Malekpour home Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister, Cc: Hon. Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Hon. Peter Kent, Official Opposition Critic for Foreign Affairs Dear Prime Minister, We are writing to you as Internet users, technologists, programmers, web designers, and entrepreneurs, from Canada and the rest of the world. Our colleague and Canadian permanent resident, Web developer Saeed Malekpour, has been arbitrarily imprisoned in Iran for over 7 years. Canada has an opportunity, as part of its normalization of relations with Iran, to help him return to his family in Vancouver, but only if your government speaks up and works now for his release. Saeed was seized by members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard from the streets of Tehran in 2008 while visiting Iran to see his sick father. He was taken to a detention center where he was tortured and placed in solitary confinement for nearly a year. Saeed was targeted because he was a Web developer. Saeed created free software tools, software in which the code is published openly for other developers and websites to use without asking permission. Millions of websites worldwide utilize free software, including your own Global Affairs and Prime Ministerial websites. Saeed believes Iran’s Revolutionary Guard found his name on software used on Iranian pornography site, and targeted him as a foreign technologist who could easily be demonized and isolated. For a common act of online generosity, he has been outrageously punished. Since his detention and torture, his forced confessions have been shown on Iranian television. His sister was forced to flee Iran after Saeed’s jailers said they would also target her. He has been sentenced to death twice. Saaed’s persecutors offered no evidence other than his forced confession. Iran’s Supreme Court and leadership has twice overturned his original death penalty because of the irregularities of the case. Nonetheless, he remains in Evin prison, with no apparent prospect of release, with little contact with his family, and serious human rights abuses. Saeed has spent over half of his prison term in solitary confinement. Your government has recently signalled a fresh start to its diplomacy with Iran. Now is the perfect moment for Canada to advocate for Saeed’s release as a pre-condition to opening wider diplomatic and economic contact. To date, none of your government’s officials has mentioned Saeed’s case. Saeed has been caught up through no fault of his own in a political battle, where Internet technologists are targeted by radical groups within Iran’s government. We urge you to work for his release, in the name of justice and on behalf of Canadians and technologists everywhere. Prime Minister, we have not forgotten Saeed Malekpour. Have you?

After the Net was used to organize protests against the Iranian President, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard formed a “Cyber Counter Attack unit”, aimed at controlling the Iranian Internet. One of the units’ first victims was Saeed, a coder living in Canada, who had travelled to Tehran to visit his sick father. Since then, Saeed has been tortured, forced to confess to impossible crimes, and sentenced to death twice. He is currently serving a life sentence in the notorious Evin prison. During his incarceration, his father has died, his mother suffered a heart attack after watching his Saeed’s forced confessions broadcast on Iranian television, and his sister was forced to flee Iran after threats were made by Saeed’s jailers.

You can read Saeed's letter that he smuggled out of Evin prison documenting his mistreatment, but be warned: it is upsetting reading. For the crime of writing that letter, Saeed’s sentence was extended by eight and a half years.

Justin Trudeau’s new administration has committed to re-normalizing relations between Canada and Iran. They have a perfect opportunity to highlight Saeed’s case and use diplomatic pressure to release him as a condition of further cooperation between the countries. Or they could ignore his case in the pursuit of an easier negotiation.

So far, the Trudeau administration has declined to highlight Saeed’s case, despite many opportunities to do so.

Write now to Justin Trudeau and Stéphane Dion, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. Tell them not to forget Saeed, and work for his return to Canada and his family there. It’s the right thing to do: for Canada, for Saeed, and for the Internet.

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