Petition hopes to save Canadian from execution in Iran
Photo caption: Supporters of Hamid Ghassemi-Shall show their solidarity with the jailed Canadian who is facing the death penalty in Iran.
(NC)— Since 2008, Antonella Mega has been working tirelessly to bring about her husband's safe return to his home in Canada. Mega's husband, Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, is a Canadian citizen being held in an Iranian jail, accused of being a spy. He could face execution any day.
Ghassemi-Shall's nightmare began in May 2008 when he left his home in Toronto and flew to Tehran to visit his elderly mother.
Soon after arriving in Iran, he was arrested. His detention followed that of his older brother, Alborz. Both brothers were held in solitary confinement in Tehran's notorious Evin prison for the next 18 months.
The brothers were sentenced to death in December 2008 following a trial that was unfair according to the human rights organization Amnesty International. The conviction appears to be based on an alleged email exchange that the Iranian authorities said was proof the brothers were involved in espionage and cooperating with a banned opposition group. Ghassemi-Shall maintains that he never sent any such email message. Evidence obtained by his lawyer reportedly confirms that to be the case.
Ghassemi-Shall said that while in Evin Prison, and before he had a lawyer, he was under extreme pressure to confess. Confessions made under torture are often accepted as evidence in Iranian courts according to Amnesty International.
In January 2010, the Iranian authorities reported that Alborz died in prison from stomach cancer.
Antonella Mega's efforts on behalf of her husband have yielded positive results. In May 2012, the Canadian House of Commons endorsed an urgent appeal to the Government of Iran to grant clemency to Hamid Ghassemi-Shall.
Right now Antonella Mega is asking the public to petition Canadian government officials to intervene through all channels available to save her husband and bring him back home to Canada.
Amnesty International has started a letter-writing campaign on his behalf and the organization's members have spoken out in solidarity with the jailed Canadian. More than 13,000 supporters have signed the petition to stop the execution of Hamid Ghassemi-Shall (tinyurl.com/ghassemi-shall-petition).
Photo credit: Paul Thompson
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