Iranian Porn Programmer's Death Sentence Commuted

Aug 26, 2013 12:45 PM PST

TEHRAN, Iran — The on-again, off-again death sentence for Saeed Malekpour, a programmer convicted of building and promoting porn sites has been commuted to life in prison.

An Iranian-born Canadian resident, Malekpour was arrested in October 2008 and taken to Evin prison in Tehran, where he spent a year in solitary confinement without access to lawyers and without being charged.

He was sentenced to death in December of 2010 and again in January of 2012 after a temporary reprieve in July of 2011, despite numerous discrepancies in the case.

At that time Malekpour appeared on state television confessing to a series of crimes detailing his involvement with porn sites that led to his conviction. But in a letter from his prison cell he retracted his confessions and claimed he made the statements under duress that included physical and psychological torture and threats against his family.

Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, a spokesman for the semi-official Mehr news agency, confirmed Malekpour’s new life sentence and said the programmer has repented, the AP reported today.

Malekpour has been described as the head of the biggest Persian-language network of porn sites.

The 36 year-old freelance web designer was detained in Iran after returning in 2008 to visit his ailing father. He was then convicted of "designing and moderating adult content websites," "agitation against the regime" in Tehran, and "insulting the sanctity of Islam."

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