Iran's Supreme Court has reinstated a death sentence against an Iranian resident of Canada who had been accused of running a pornographic website, a lawyer working on the case said Thursday.
The death sentence meted out to Saeed Malekpour was reinstated by the court, after it had reportedly been annulled in June, said Shadi Sadr, a lawyer with the advocacy group Justice for Iran, citing the accused's sister.
"I talked to his sister two days ago and she told me that according to one of the branches of the Supreme Court the death penalty was confirmed. It could be executed at any time from now on," Sadr said by phone from Britain.
Malekpour, a 36-year-old computer programmer, was sentenced to death in December 2010 after being found guilty of "designing and moderating adult content websites," "agitation against the regime," and "insulting the sanctity of Islam," according to his supporters.
The Canadian government protested the verdict, which the Supreme Court then reportedly annulled in June 2011.
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Malekpour's supporters say he developed a program that allows photographs to be posted to the Internet, which was used without his knowledge for the creation of porn sites.
A resident of Canada since 2004, Malekpour was arrested in Iran in 2008 while visiting his dying father.
The Canadian government and several organizations, including Amnesty International and the Inter-Parliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran headed by Canadian lawmaker Irwin Cotler, called for Malekpour's immediate release.
"This is yet another example of the criminalization of innocence and the wanton executions that pass for 'judicial decision-making in Iran' but which have resulted in Iran having the highest execution rate per capita in the world," the parliamentary group said.
The court's decision comes as the regime is cracking down on bloggers and other Internet users, said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"By confirming Saeed Malekpour's death sentence after an unfair trial, the Iranian authorities are sending a message to Iranians not to freely express their views, or even to help others to do so, including on the internet," Harrison said.