07232014Wed

Iran suspends computer programmer's death sentence: report

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran has suspended the death sentence for a computer programmer convicted on charges of running a pornographic website after he "repented for his actions," his lawyer was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Saeed Malekpour, an Iranian citizen and Canadian resident, was arrested in 2008 while visiting relatives in Iran, according to Amnesty International.

Although Iranian authorities accused him of running a pornography site, Amnesty has said the charges appear to stem from a software program created by Malekpour that was used without his knowledge to post pornographic images. Such images are illegal in the Islamic republic.

Malekpour's lawyer Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei told Mehr news agency that his client had repented for his actions after his death sentence, issued by the Revolutionary Court, was confirmed by Iran's Supreme Court.

"After the sentence was confirmed my client repented for his actions. With this repentance, the death sentence has been suspended," the lawyer told Mehr. Malekpour was accused of "insulting and desecrating" Islam, according to Amnesty.

There was no immediate comment or confirmation from Iranian authorities.

The Canadian government has protested Iran's handling of the case, saying this year that Malekpour had "failed to receive fair and transparent legal treatment."

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, called on the Iranian government in February to review Malekpour's sentence and halt his execution.

(Reporting By Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Roger Atwood)

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