Iran Executes Opposition Journalist Ruhollah Zam In 'Barbaric' Act

Iran has executed dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam, a former exile in France whose online work helped inspire nationwide economic protests in 2017.

The semiofficial ISNA news agency reported on December 12 that Tehran's Revolutionary Prosecutor's Office announced Zam's execution by hanging, causing a chorus of international outrage.

The execution comes days after Iran's judiciary announced the Supreme Court had more than a month ago upheld a death sentence against the 47-year-old journalist.

France condemned the execution, which it described as a "serious attack on freedom of speech and freedom of the press" and a "barbaric and unacceptable act."

Media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) tweeted that it was "outraged at this new crime of Iranian justice" and considered Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "the mastermind of this execution."

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said that Iran's government had now joined "the company of criminal gangs and violent extremists who silence journalists by murdering them."

Amnesty International said the execution "shows the extent of Iran's brutal tactics to repress dissent."

Zam was sentenced to death by a Revolutionary Court in June following what RSF called a "grossly unfair" trial.

He was convicted of "corruption on Earth," a charge often leveled in cases involving espionage or attempts to overthrow Iran's government.

Zam's website, AmadNews, and a channel he created on the popular messaging app Telegram, had informed people about the 2017 protests, which began over economic hardship and spread nationwide.

The protests represented the biggest challenge to Iran since postelection mass unrest in 2009 and set the stage for similar turmoil in November 2019. More than 20 people were killed during the unrest and thousands were arrested.

AmadNews was suspended on Telegram in 2018 but later continued under a different name.

Zam had been living and working in exile in Paris before being arrested in October 2019 under still unclear circumstances.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said it had "trapped" the activist in a "complex operation using intelligence deception." It did not say where the operation took place.

Zam, whom the Paris-based RSF described as a "very controversial figure both in Iran and in the Iranian diaspora," appeared in televised confessions admitting his wrongdoings and offering an apology for his past activities.

He had previously denied allegations he incited violence but openly admitted that AmadNews's mission was to take down the government.

Iran regularly forces confessions from prisoners, often under duress or torture.

With reporting by ISNA