12/02/2012 02:50 EST | Updated 02/01/2013 05:12 EST

Iran Suspends Computer Programmer's Death Sentence

Getty Images
This January 22, 2012 photo shows supporters demonstrating for the release of Saeed Malekpour, in Phillips Square in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Malekpour, 35, a Canadian-Iranian software engineer, is facing imminent execution in Tehran for allegedly operating a pornography website after the Iranian Supreme Court rejected a final appeal from his lawyers. AFP PHOTO/Virginie SALMEN (Photo credit should read Virginie SALMEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Authorities in Iran have reportedly suspended the death sentence of a computer programmer from Canada, according to the Mehr news agency.

Saeed Malekpour, an Iranian-born man with permanent residency in Canada, was arrested in December 2008 while visiting his ailing father in Iran.

At the time, the 37-year-old computer programmer, who lives in Toronto, was accused of operating an adult-content website.

Canada and several rights groups have petitioned for his release. Amnesty International has said a software program created by Malekpour was used to post pornographic images – unbeknownst to Malekpour.

In 2010, he was convicted of three counts of "designing and moderating adult-content websites" and "insulting the sanctity of Islam."

The Canadian government has protested Malekpour’s incarceration, saying he did not receive "fair and transparent legal treatment."

Malekpour's lawyer Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei told Mehr news agency that his client had repented for his actions and, therefore, the death sentence was rescinded.

According to several reports, Malekpour’s supporters and family remain skeptical of the reduced sentence and say no “official documents” from Iran’s judiciary have been released.

The Facebook page "Free Saeed Malekpour" posted a comment saying it was welcoming the development with "cautious optimism" but reiterated that his supporters still needed to confirm the latest news.

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