Prisoner of Conscience, Serving Life Sentence, is Finally Allowed In-Person Family Visits after a Year
Prisoner of conscience Saeed Malekpour, serving a life sentence for blasphemy, has been allowed monthly family visits at Evin Prison where he has been held for the last seven years, after a year in which prison authorities denied him in-person visitation, his sister Maryam Malekpour told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“When he was in Evin’s Ward 7 for a year, he wasn’t permitted any visits because the prison authorities said he was a [national] security prisoner. But thank God he had a face-to-face visit with my mother last month and now they have said there will be visits every month,” Maryam Malekpour said.
Saeed Malekpour, 39, was a resident of Canada when he was arrested during a visit to Iran in 2008 for his alleged role in managing Iranian pornographic websites. He was sentenced to death in October 2010 for “blasphemy” but a year later the Supreme Court overturned the sentence. On August 26, 2013, he was sentenced to life in prison after he repented and showed remorse in court.
“The pardon request forms are now processed online. My mother has sent the online request twice and each time it has been rejected by Branch 22 of the Supreme Court. But we are still hopeful that he will be pardoned,” Saeed Malekpour’s sister said.
She noted that Saeed’s lawyer is trying to have his other sentence of seven and a half years in prison for “insulting the Supreme Leader and the president,” and “propaganda against the state” dismissed.
During Malekpour’s trial he said the confessions he made-and which were televised in 2009-were false and made under torture. Prisoners of consciences are frequently forced to make confessions by interrogators working hand-in-hand with intelligence and security officials, and these confessions are then often broadcast by Iranian state TV (the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, or IRIB) in order to discredit and defame political dissidents.
“Saeed always tells us that he feels good. But we aren’t so sure. Someone who has spent seven continuous years in prison cannot be feeling good. He says he exercises and reads books and he did some woodcarving while he was inside Ward 7. He says he does these things so that he won’t lose hope,” his sister told the Campaign.
“A large portion of my confession was extracted under pressure, physical and psychological torture, threats to myself and my family, and false promises of immediate release upon giving a false confession to whatever the interrogators dictated,” Malekpour said in a letter from prison in March 2010.
In addition to the denial of in-person family visits, Malekpour has also been denied furlough (prison leave for medical or special family circumstances) throughout his seven years behind bars, a right routinely granted to inmates in Iran. Prisoners of conscience in Iran receive much harsher treatment than other prisoners.
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