Iranian dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam, who Iran convicted of fomenting violence during the 2017 anti-government protests, was executed on Saturday, Iran's semi-official Nour news agency reported.
Zam was a journalist who ran the Amadnews feed on popular messaging app Telegram, which had more than one million followers.
State broadcaster Seda va Sima said on Saturday Zam, "director of the counter-revolutionary Amadnews network, was hanged this morning."
Iran’s Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the death sentence of Zam, who was captured in 2019 after years in exile. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claimed to have arrested Zam in Iraq in a “sophisticated and professional operation,” but Iraqi government sources later challenged this narrative.
In June, a court sentenced Zam to death, saying he had been convicted of “corruption on Earth,” a charge often used in cases involving espionage or attempts to overthrow Iran’s government.
Zam’s website and Telegram feed had spread the timings of the protests and embarrassing information about officials that directly challenged the authority of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Those demonstrations, which began at the end of 2017, represented the biggest challenge to Tehran since the 2009 Green Movement protests and set the stage for similar mass unrest in November of last year.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) voiced “outrage” at the execution on Saturday.
“RSF is outraged at this new crime of Iranian justice,” the media watchdog tweeted, adding that it saw Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the “mastermind of this execution.”
#Iran: AmadNews editor #Rohollah_Zam was executed this 12/12. RSF is outraged at this new crime of Iranian justice and sees @ali_khamenei as the mastermind of this execution. RSF had warned @mbachelet and @JavaidRehman about his possible execution since the 23rd of October pic.twitter.com/sRGZRFxe95— RSF (@RSF_inter) December 12, 2020
Zam’s execution also sparked calls for Iran to abolish the death penalty, with commentators highlighting Tehran's use of repression against protesters.
“Another despicable execution in #Iran, punishing Rohollah Zam for exercising his right to freely express himself. Abolish the death penalty, in Iran and around the world,” wrote International Commission of Jurists Secretary-General Sam Zarifi on Twitter.
“I’m deeply shocked & saddened that Islamic Republic executed Iranian dissident journalist #RuhollahZam, who was a source of anti regime news, especially during #IranProtests. Zam was lured to Iraq from Paris & kidnapped by the IRGC. This could happen to all of us. IRI=ISIS,” tweeted Iranian activist Masih Alinejad.
I’m deeply shocked & saddened that Islamic Republic executed Iranian dissident journalist #RuhollahZam, who was a source of anti regime news, especially during #IranProtests. Zam was lured to Iraq from Paris & kidnapped by the IRGC. This could happen to all of us.— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) December 12, 2020
Iran recently attracted international criticism for executing Navid Afkari, a wrestler who was arrested during the 2018 anti-government protests.
“Iran’s continued jailing, torture, and execution of individuals on manufactured charges related to past protests shows just how afraid of those movements the Islamic Republic actually is,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), told Al Arabiya English at the time.