Ruhollah Zam, a dissident journalist who was captured in what Tehran calls an intelligence operation, speaks during his trial in Tehran, Iran. File picture: Mizan News Agency/WANA
Ruhollah Zam, a dissident journalist who was captured in what Tehran calls an intelligence operation, speaks during his trial in Tehran, Iran. File picture: Mizan News Agency/WANA

Iran executes dissident journalist it blamed for 2017 protests

By Reuters Time of article published Dec 12, 2020

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Iranian dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam, who was convicted of fomenting violence during anti-government protests in 2017, was executed on Saturday, Iran's state television reported.

Iran said on Tuesday its Supreme Court had upheld the death sentence of Zam, who was captured in 2019 after years of living in exile in France. His Amadnews feed had more than one million followers.

State TV said Zam, "director of the counter-revolutionary Amadnews network, was hanged this morning".

France and human rights groups had condemned the Supreme Court's decision.

Press advocacy group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the execution.

"RSF is outraged at this new crime of Iranian justice and sees (Supreme Leader Ayatollah) @ali_khamenei as the mastermind of this execution," the group tweeted.

Amnesty International said it was "shocked and horrified" by Iran's action.

"We call on the international community, including member states of the UN Human Rights Council and the EU, to take immediate action to pressure the Iranian authorities to halt their escalating use of the death penalty as a weapon of political repression," the right group sais in a statement.

The son of a pro-reform Shi'ite cleric, Zam fled Iran and was given asylum in France.

In October 2019, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps said it had trapped Zam in a "complex operation using intelligence deception." It did not say where the operation took place.

Nour News, a news agency close to the Revolutionary Guards, said last week that Zam was detained by Guards agents after he travelled to Iraq in September 2019 and brought to Iran.

Iranian officials have accused the United States as well as Tehran's regional rival Saudi Arabia and government opponents living in exile of stoking the unrest, which began in late 2017 as regional protests over economic hardship spread nationwide.

Officials said 21 people were killed during the unrest and thousands were arrested. The unrest was among the worst Iran has seen in decades, and was followed by even deadlier protests last year against fuel price rises.

Zam's Amadnews feed was suspended by messaging service Telegram in 2018 for allegedly inciting violence but later reappeared under another name.

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