Hamid Ghassemi-Shall is a Toronto shoe salesman who emigrated to Canada from Iran after the 1979 revolution. He became a citizen and has returned to visit family members several times without incident.
On a visit to his mother in May 2008, he was arrested, charged with espionage, and sentenced to be executed. He has been tortured both physically and psychologically. There is speculation that he was arrested as a reprisal against his brother, Alborz, a former naval officer who was sympathetic with the opposition movement and died after 20 months in prison.
Saeed Malekpour is the other Canadian resident awaiting execution in Tehran's Evin Prison. While visiting his terminally ill father in October 2008, he was arrested and charged with insulting Islam, debauching Iranian youth, and corrupting the earth. He was tortured both physically and psychologically into giving a false confession and was sentenced to die on January 16, 2012. It appears that his only 'crime' was being an internet and computer expert.
Another Canadian in jail in Evin Prison is Hossein Derakshan - sentenced to 19.5 years for creating propaganda against the Islamic regime and insulting religious sanctity among other 'crimes'. His real crime was criticizing the Iranian government.
Now that Vic Toews (the Canadian Minister of Public Safety) says "...it’s fine to use information gathered from foreign sources that do use torture. He said as much in the orders to [the] Canadian Security Intelligence Service...", we can't argue that we don't condone torture. But these cases are obviously political and these men shouldn't be in jail - let alone awaiting execution.
The Canadian government has done little or nothing to have these men freed and it's time for them to stop being a patsy. All Iranian funds in Canada should be seized until these men are released and have left the country. The military should be tasked with implementing a rescue mission - after all, they're right next door in Afghanistan.
Is there some racism going on here? I recall the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik, who couldn't return to Canada because of being placed on the terror watch list by the government and was "...formally cleared by CSIS and the RCMP of terrorist allegations...".
These cases have all ocurred since Harper's Conservative government first took power in 2006. Under this government, if you travel abroad on a Canadian passport, you have no guarantee that the government will do everything in its power to free you - you may end up in a foreign jail for a very long time, stranded in an embassy and unable to travel, or under a sentence of death. Canadians ought to be concerned and very scared.
You can write to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird at the links included in their names. I urge you to also write your MP to express your outrage at the government's lack of action - you can find your MP with your postal code on this page.