There’s a sliver of optimism for a former Saanich man sentenced to death in Iran.
Saeed Malekpour’s lawyer has told the Iranian Mehr news agency that the computer programmer’s sentence has been suspended, the Toronto Star reports.
The 37-year-old was jailed four years ago when authorities accused him of designing and moderating porn sites. His supporters say that’s not true, that he designed the photo software but didn’t know how others were going to use it.
Those supporters are being careful in how they react to the reports out of Iran. “We are welcoming the news with cautious optimism, as no official document has been presented to the family to confirm the suspension of the death sentence,” Toronto-based Iranian rights activist Maryam Nayeb Yazdi wrote in an email Friday. “The Iranian regime authorities have not commented on the news that the death sentence has been suspended.”
Likewise, Malekpour’s former landlords aren’t sure what’s going on. Rita Wittman and husband Jim Rogers rented a suite in their Saanich home to Malekpour and his wife, Fatima Eftekhari, when the couple moved from Ontario in 2006. The Iranians had come to Canada in 2004 to further Eftekhari’s education.
Eftekhari finished her doctorate in medical nanotechnology and taught at UVic while Malekpour did freelance web design.
They were in the process of moving to Ontario in 2008 when Malekpour learned his father was dying. He was arrested two days after arriving in Tehran.
Wittman and Rogers have been part of an international campaign to spring the man whom they described as a good friend, a salt-of-the-earth sort who would always shovel the driveway or help in the garden.
The young couple, who had permanent-resident status, soaked up Canadian culture while here. They also liked being active, skiing Mount Washington, hiking Mount Doug, swimming the Sooke Potholes and strolling the beach at Cadboro Bay.
It has been difficult reconciling those images with the idea of Malekpour rotting in Tehran’s Evin prison.
“He’s always in our thoughts and we’re hoping for a positive outcome,” Wittman said Friday.
There’s a local connection to the news that Susan Rice has withdrawn her bid to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.
Rice, a key Barack Obama adviser and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has been married to Oak Bay High grad Ian Cameron for 20 years.
Cameron, president of Oak Bay’s 1979 class, met Rice at Stanford University and went on to a high-level career as a producer with ABC News. They have two children.
With Rice out of the running, the secretary of state job could go to John Kerry, who also has a Victoria link. It was Kerry who hired his onetime Nantucket golf caddy, St. Michaels University School grad Marvin Nicholson, for his congressional office. Nicholson rose to become part of Kerry’s inner circle when the senator ran as the Democrats’ presidential candidate in 2004, then moved to Obama’s 2008 campaign team, landing in his current role as White House trip director after that election.
There’s one more tenuous local tie to Obama. The president’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro, is married to Canadian-born Konrad Ng, who earned a master’s degree from UVic in 1999. He’s an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii.
If you liked the photo of the New York cop who bought boots for the homeless man in Times Square, then you’ll like this:
Not everyone is overburdened with cash. Some help their neighbours in other ways. An older fellow made his way to the Times Colonist building on Thursday so he could donate two pairs of shoes to those less fortunate than himself.
“Someone needs these more than I do,” said the man, who made the journey with the aid of a walker.
It wasn’t the conventional sort of TC Christmas Fund donation — the newspaper isn’t set up to distribute clothing — but the footwear did go to the right place.
To find someone so generous that he gives up the shoes off his feet is good for the soul (if not the sole).
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