An Iranian who was sentenced to life imprisonment for creating a pornographic website fled the country and arrived in Canada while on short-term release, Iranian authorities and his family said.
The Iranian authorities confirmed reports on state television on Saturday that Saeed Malekpour, who also lives in Canada, had left the Islamic Republic.
“This person was banned from leaving the country and apparently left … through unofficial channels and did not return,” said justice spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili.
“This person was sentenced to life imprisonment and served more than 11 years of his sentence,” said Esmaili, quoted by the judiciary’s official news agency, Mizan Online.
He said Malekpour was given a three-day vacation on July 20 and ended up not turning himself in to prison.
His sister posted a video on Twitter confirming that he has returned to Canada.
“The nightmare is finally over,” said Maryam Malekpour, thanking everyone who supported the family.
Payam Akhavan, a professor at McGill University in Montreal who supported Malekpour, told CBC TV that his family in Iran and his lawyer knew nothing about the escape.
Malekpour was arrested in Iran in December 2008 when he was returning to his home country to visit his dying father. He has been accused of running a pornographic website.
He was initially sentenced to death but commuted to life imprisonment in August 2013.
He was reportedly found guilty on three counts, including “designing and moderating websites with adult content” and “insulting the holiness of Islam”.