A Canadian resident and web programmer, jailed in Iran for more than a decade on pornography charges, was set free and has returned to Canada, according to his family.
The programmer, Saeed Malekpour, was a 33-year-old graduate student when he was arrested while in Iran to visit his ailing father in 2008, according to rights groups, including Amnesty International, that had advocated for his release.
Malekpour’s sister, Maryam Malekpour, announced in a post on Twitter late Friday, that he had arrived in Canada.
Malekpour’s supporters said the pornography charges against him were unfounded and that Iranian authorities had wrongly persecuted him for creating open-source software for uploading photos on the internet. They said that if the software was used for pornography it was without his knowledge.
There was no immediate explanation of Malekpour’s release, but it comes at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the West, including over a British oil tanker seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. The United States has imposed sanctions on the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, while the EU has said it will continue to work with him.
The U.K. has been working to organize a European-led naval mission to secure the Strait of Hormuz, while Germany has rejected a request to join a U.S.-led mission, angering Washington. The EU and the U.S. have disagreed sharply over policy toward Iran since President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, last year.