By Olivia Ward, former bureau chief, correspondent and foreign affairs writer for the Toronto Star for more than two decades. She works as a documentary filmmaker with Shelley Saywell's Bishari film company.
Saeed Malekpour came to Canada in 2004, drawn by its promise of unspoiled nature, fresh air and open spaces to explore. But on Oct. 4, 2008, he was arrested, beaten, tortured and cast into the airless, dungeon-like cells of Iran’s Evin prison. Today marks his ninth year behind bars.
Malekpour was a Canadian permanent resident awaiting citizenship when an urgent call from his family brought him to Tehran to visit his dying father. A metallurgical engineer, he had been working in Victoria B.C.as a web programmer to put himself through a graduate degree he hoped would open up new employment opportunities. Instead, he was charged by the Iranian regime with managing a pornographic website at the instigation of western countries plotting to corrupt the morals of Iranians – a spurious charge that was supported by no evidence.