DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran on Saturday executed an exiled journalist over his on-line work that helped encourage nationwide financial protests in 2017, somewhat greater than a yr after authorities tricked him into touring to Iraq the place he was kidnapped.
Ruhollah Zam, 47, was certainly one of a number of opposition figures efficiently seized by Iranian intelligence operatives overseas in latest months as Tehran struggles beneath the load of U.S. sanctions.
Kidnapping and executing Zam, who lived in Paris beneath what Iran described as French authorities safety, possible will additional chill an already-scattered Iranian opposition throughout the West. It additionally comes as Iran tries to stress France and different European nations over the collapsed atomic accord within the waning days of President Donald Trump’s administration.
Zam’s “execution is a lethal blow to freedom of expression in Iran and exhibits the extent of the Iranian authorities’ brutal ways to instill concern and deter dissent,” warned Diana Eltahawy of Amnesty Worldwide.
Iranian state tv referred to Zam as “the chief of the riots” in saying his execution by hanging early Saturday. In June, a courtroom sentenced Zam to loss of life, saying he had been convicted of “corruption on Earth,” a cost typically utilized in instances involving espionage or makes an attempt to overthrow Iran’s authorities.
Zam’s web site AmadNews and a channel he created on the favored messaging app Telegram had unfold the timings of the 2017 protests and embarrassing details about officers that instantly challenged Iran’s Shiite theocracy.
These demonstrations, which started on the finish of December 2017 and continued into 2018, represented the largest problem to Iran’s rulers for the reason that 2009 Inexperienced Motion protests and set the stage for related mass unrest in November of final yr.
The preliminary spark for the 2017 protests was a sudden bounce in meals costs. Many imagine that hard-line opponents of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani instigated the primary demonstrations within the conservative metropolis of Mashhad in northeastern Iran, attempting to direct public anger on the president. However as protests unfold from city to city, the backlash turned in opposition to your complete ruling class.
Quickly, cries instantly difficult Rouhani and even Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei may very well be heard in on-line movies shared by Zam.
Telegram shut down the channel over Iranian authorities complaints it unfold details about the right way to make gasoline bombs. The channel later continued beneath a distinct identify. Zam denied inciting violence on Telegram on the time.
The 2017 protests reportedly noticed some 5,000 folks detained and 25 killed.
Zam himself had fled Iran after the 2009 protests, heading first to Malaysia after which to France. Whereas Iranian authorities have by no means described how Iran’s Revolutionary Guard detained him, Amnesty stated he was seized on a visit to neighboring Iraq — the place the Guard has wielded deep affect for the reason that 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Zam’s father, the reformist Shiite cleric Mohammad Ali Zam, appeared to verify the Iraqi abduction in feedback on Instagram on Saturday.
“I made a cope with god, I’ve no worries, these folks introduced me to Karbala, however didn’t enable me to go to the shrine,” the Instagram submit quotes the youthful Zam as saying. Karbala is residence to the shrine of Imam Hussein, an essential pilgrimage level for Shiites.
The submit added: “I advised him, ‘Don’t fear, Imam Hussein is in all guests’ hearts, he’s with you.’”
The cleric stated he solely was allowed to go to Tehran’s Evin jail on Friday to see his son after agreeing with authorities to not inform him his execution loomed. Iranian media didn’t acknowledge the submit.
France beforehand has criticized his loss of life sentence as “a severe blow to freedom of expression and press freedom in Iran.” Reporters With out Borders, a bunch that campaigns for press freedoms, stated Zam’s hanging was a “new crime of Iranian justice.”
Sherif Mansour of the Committee to Shield Journalists stated Zam’s execution had seen “Iranian authorities be part of the corporate of legal gangs and violent extremists who silence journalists by murdering them.”
“It is a monstrous and shameful act, and one which the worldwide group should not let cross unnoticed,” Mansour stated.
Iran is likely one of the world’s prime executioners.
Zam is certainly one of three opposition figures apparently detained in intelligence operations overseas. In late July, a California-based member of an Iranian militant opposition group in exile was abducted by Iran while staying in Dubai, his household has stated.
Iran is also believed to have seized the previous head of the Arab Wrestle Motion for the Liberation of Ahwaz, a militant separatist group, whereas he was in Turkey. Iran has accused Farajollah Cha’ab of being behind a 2018 attack on a military parade that killed at least 25 people and wounded 70.
Comply with Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.
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