04/16/2012 06:53 EDT | Updated 06/16/2012 05:12 EDT

Hamid Ghassemi-Shall: Stephen Harper Warns Iran Of Consequences If Canadian Executed


SANTIAGO, Chile - Prime Minister Stephen Harper is calling on Iran to spare the life of an Iranian-Canadian convicted of espionage and awaiting execution.

Harper warned there will be consequences if Hamid Ghassemi-Shall is executed.

Ghassemi-Shall, 42, was arrested in 2008 while visiting his family in Iran and was later charged with espionage.

He was sentenced to death in 2009 and an Iranian court has rejected an appeal.

"The government of Iran should know that the whole world will be watching, and they will cast judgement if terrible and inappropriate things are done in this case," Harper said during a trip to Chile.

Harper's warning followed a similar statement by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird who said Sunday that Ottawa is ''gravely concerned'' by indications that Ghassemi-Shall's execution may be imminent.

"We urge Iran to reverse its current course and to adhere to its international human rights obligations," Baird said.

Ghassemi-Shall was born in Iran and emigrated to Canada after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.

He is awaiting execution in Tehran's notorious Evin prison _ where another Canadian -- photo journalist Zahra Kazemi of Montreal -- was beaten, raped and killed in 2003.