Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Harper warns Iran against executing Iranian-Canadian on death row

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, seen in this Reuters photo.

Chris Wattie/Reuters/Chris Wattie/Reuters

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

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

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

Story continues below advertisement

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

"Canadian government officials have been working at all levels for some time to urge fair judicial process and clemency in this case and we're working with our international partners, and I think our view is known. The government of Iran should know that the whole world will be watching, and they will cast judgment if terrible and inappropriate things are done in this case," Mr. Harper said during a trip to Chile.

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

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

Former foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon got involved in the case in 2010 and now the Foreign Affairs Department said it is reaching out to "like-minded" countries with ambassadors in Iran to lobby on Mr. Ghassemi-Shall's behalf.

He 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.

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.