If you are a web developer, or any kind of code wrangler, please take a minute out of your day to read what follows. I don’t usually write article of a political nature, but as a web developer this really hits close to home and I would never want this to happen to me.
Imagine you create software for a client. You do a good job, you are proud of your work, and you put your name and contact info in the heading of the code’s comments. I’ve done it many times with both code that I have been paid for as well as stuff I open-source and share with the community. If you are a web developer (or any type of developer for that matter) you probably have done the same thing. Who would have thought you could be sentenced to death for it?
This is the story of a man named Saeed Malekpour, a man from Iran who lived in Canada until recently. He apparently created software that can be used to upload photos to a website. When he went back to Iran in 2008 to visit his sick father, he was arrested because that software he created was used on a pornographic website. The Iranian government also accused Saeed with designing pornographic websites and “insulting Islam” (the government tortured him and extract a forced confession of these crimes, according to a letter Saeed wrote in prison). This week, Saeed was sentenced to death. Even if these accusations were true (which I don’t think they are), why on Earth would that be considered a capital crime?
I look at his situation, and I think of all the software I have ever written and released on to clients or open sourced on this blog. After I release the software, I have no say on what people do with it. I look at Saeed’s situation, and think that if I was Iranian, this could be me. If you are a computer programmer of any description, imagine this being you.
Saeed doesn’t have a lot of time, so I ask anyone who reads my blog, especially those in the web development community, please help this cause by visiting this page or filling out this online petition to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. You can also publicize the official Campaign for Release of Saeed Malekpour to whatever social network(s) you belong to. Doing so may raise awareness on this issue and hopefully help Saeed off of death row and back home where he belongs.
- Iran Executions: Saeed Malekpour with an radio interview of Saeed Malekpour’s wife Fatima on CBC’s The Current
- Protests spread as GTA man faces execution in Iran – by Olivia Ward, Toronto Star.
- Toronto-area man faces death in Iran prison, from CBC News
- Iran confirms death sentence for ‘porn site’ web programmer by Saeed Kamali Dehghan, The Guardian
- Web Developer Sentenced To Death In Iran posted on Slashdot