Political Prisoner Saeed Malekpour Escapes to Canada After Over a Decade in Iran's Notorious Evin Prison

Saeed poses with his sister Maryam Malekpour on Saturday, August 3, 2019, after landing in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Saeed poses with his sister Maryam Malekpour on Saturday, August 3, 2019, after landing in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Canadian Permanent Resident Saeed Malekpour is once again a free man after unjustly languishing in Iran's notorious Evin Prison for eleven years. The Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights had helped facilitate his freedom – working alongside his courageous and committed sister Maryam – and RWCHR Chair Professor Cotler had served as his pro bono international legal counsel.

The two siblings were reunited after over a decade of pained waiting, overcoming unjust imprisonment and torture to return home to Canada

Background

Arbitrarily arrested and detained in 2008 while visiting his ailing father in Iran, Saeed, a web programmer, was targeted in a crackdown on freedom of expression online and was convicted on the classical trumped-up charges used to criminalize innocence and free expression in Khamenei's Iran. He was handed a death sentence - which was later commuted to life in prison due to international outcry - and was subsequently tortured in solitary confinement and denied adequate medical care.

His Journey to Freedom

Saeed was recently granted a three-day furlough as a result of sustained international pressure, including in particular through the United Nations, Canadian Government, Parliament, and civil society, the whole inspired by and anchored in the leadership of his sister Maryam and the justice of Saeed's case and cause. The RWCHR played an integral role in mobilizing this pressure by, among other things, submitting a complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on Saeed's behalf and organizing the Annual Iran Accountability Week in Canadian Parliament, which included a parliamentary petition calling for his release.

On this brief furlough, and without the sanction of authorities in Iran, nor the knowledge of his family or attorney in Iran, Saeed escaped via a third country. Canadian authorities then quickly reinstated Saeed's status as Permanent Canadian Resident, facilitating his return home.

On August 2, 2019, Saeed and his sister Maryam landed in British Columbia, Canada, the place Saeed called home prior to his unjust imprisonment. Since his return to Canada, Saeed has enjoyed a typical Canadian weekend with his sister and friends, including picnics and a day at the lake.

Saeed's long and overdue journey to freedom – after over a decade of unjust imprisonment and torture – is a testament to the enduring resilience of the human spirit and of the imperative of continuing to fight for the release of political prisoners, not relenting until they are free.

Saeed walking with his sister Maryam through Vancouver International Airport, heading home, for the first time in over a decade.