Iran forum postponed as journalist, diplomats withdraw over journalist’s execution

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A Tehran-based business forum that aimed to promote trade between Europe and the Islamic Republic was postponed a day before it was set to start after journalists and diplomats were successfully pressured to withdraw over the execution of Iranian dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam.

“The organizing committee of the Europe-Iran Business Forum has decided to take the exceptional step of postponing the conference, which was slated to take place on December 14-16 as an online event,” the Europe-Iran Business Forum said in a statement.

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The statement did not say why the event has been postponed.

Meanwhile, the French Foreign Ministry tweeted that the French, German, Austrian and Italian envoys to Tehran will no longer attend the forum due to Iran’s “barbaric and unacceptable” execution of Zam.

Earlier today, Iran summoned the envoys of Germany and France after the two European countries condemned Zam’s execution.

Zam, who Iran convicted of inciting violence during anti-government protests in late 2017, was executed on Saturday, state media reported. He ran Amadnews, a channel on popular messaging app Telegram which had over a million followers.

Iranian agents reportedly captured Zam during a visit to Iraq in 2019. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said at the time they had “trapped” Zam in a “complex operation using intelligence deception.”

There had already been calls for a boycott of the forum due to Iran’s human rights record, but these calls intensified following Zam’s execution, with critics arguing that such events only benefit the Iranian regime and “normalize” its suppression of dissent.

Prior to the forum’s postponement, Patrick Wintour, diplomatic editor at The Guardian who was on the speakers’ list had tweeted that he would not attend the event in protest of Zam’s execution.

“For those interested: after Iran's abhorrent execution of fellow journalist Ruhollah Zam, I am not chairing tomorrow's discussion with EU envoys based in Tehran on economic relations with Iran,” Wintour tweeted.

In addition to European envoys, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell were also scheduled to speak at the event.

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