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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 9 March 2021

Iran condemned for execution of journalist Rouhollah Zam

Exile captured by Tehran last year was hanged on Saturday

Ruhollah Zam speaking during his trial at Iran's Revolutionary Court in Tehran. AFP
Ruhollah Zam speaking during his trial at Iran's Revolutionary Court in Tehran. AFP

Iran drew international condemnation for its execution of the dissident journalist Rouhollah Zam, with France calling it barbaric and a global media watchdog describing the killing as "a new crime of Iranian justice".

"France condemns in the strongest possible terms this serious breach of free expression and press freedom in Iran," the foreign ministry said after Iran state media reported that Zam was hanged early on Saturday.

"This is a barbaric and unacceptable act that goes against the country's international commitments."

This is a monstrous and shameful act, and one which the international community must not let pass unnoticed

Sherif Mansour

The execution of Zam, who fled to France in 2009 but was arrested by Iran in 2019 in unclear circumstances, came as Tehran tries to pressure France and other European nations over the collapsed 2015 nuclear accord in the waning days of US President Donald Trump's administration.

Zam was sentenced to death by a Tehran court in June for "corruption on earth" – a charge often used in cases involving espionage or attempts to overthrow Iran’s government.

Iran's official Irna news agency said he was also convicted of espionage for France and an unnamed country in the region, co-operating with the "hostile government of America", acting against the country's security, insulting the sanctity of Islam and instigating violence during protests in 2017.

After going into exile, Zam set up the AmadNews website and Telegram channel that disseminated information about Iran's leaders and events in the country, including the 2017 protests that broke out over rising prices.

The European Union denounced Zam's execution "in the strongest terms", reiterating the bloc's "irrevocable opposition to the use of capital punishment under any circumstances".

Germany expressed shock about the circumstances of Zam's conviction and what it described as his “abduction from abroad”.

Canada condemned the execution, saying it would hold "Iran accountable for its violations of human rights”.

Diana Eltahawy of Amnesty International said Zam's “execution is a deadly blow to freedom of expression in Iran and shows the extent of the Iranian authorities’ brutal tactics to instil fear and deter dissent".

Reporters Without Borders, a group that campaigns for press freedoms, said Zam's hanging was a "new crime of Iranian justice”.

Sherif Mansour of the Committee to Protect Journalists said Zam's execution led Iranian authorities to "join the company of criminal gangs and violent extremists who silence journalists by murdering them”.

“This is a monstrous and shameful act, and one which the international community must not let pass unnoticed,” he said.

Updated: December 13, 2020 02:47 PM

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