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Iran executes exiled journalist after 2017 economic protests

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Saturday’s execution of Ruhollah Zam got here just a little greater than a 12 months after authorities tricked him into touring to Iraq the place he was kidnapped.

Iran on Saturday executed an exiled journalist over his on-line work that helped encourage nationwide financial protests in 2017, just a little greater than a 12 months after authorities tricked him into touring to Iraq the place he was kidnapped.

Ruhollah Zam, 47, was one in all a number of opposition figures efficiently seized by Iranian intelligence operatives overseas in current months as Tehran struggles underneath the burden of U.S. sanctions. 

Kidnapping and executing Zam, who lived in Paris underneath 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 strain 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 techniques to instill worry 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 court docket sentenced Zam to loss of life, saying he had been convicted of “corruption on Earth,” a cost usually 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 immediately challenged Iran’s Shiite theocracy. 

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These demonstrations, which started on the finish of December 2017 and continued into 2018, represented the largest problem to Iran’s rulers because the 2009 Inexperienced Motion protests and set the stage for comparable mass unrest in November of final 12 months. 

The preliminary spark for the 2017 protests was a sudden leap in meals costs. Many consider that hard-line opponents of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani instigated the primary demonstrations within the conservative metropolis of Mashhad in northeastern Iran, making an attempt to direct public anger on the president. However as protests unfold from city to city, the backlash turned towards your entire ruling class.

Quickly, cries immediately difficult Rouhani and even Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could possibly be heard in on-line movies shared by Zam. 

Telegram shut down the channel over Iranian authorities complaints it unfold details about the way to make gasoline bombs. The channel later continued underneath a unique title. Zam denied inciting violence on Telegram on the time.

The 2017 protests reportedly noticed some 5,000 individuals 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 mentioned he was seized on a visit to neighboring Iraq — the place the Guard has wielded deep affect because the 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.

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“I made a cope with god, I’ve no worries, these individuals introduced me to Karbala, however didn’t enable me to go to the shrine,” the Instagram publish quotes the youthful Zam as saying. Karbala is residence to the shrine of Imam Hussein, an necessary pilgrimage level for Shiites. 

The publish added: “I informed him, ‘Don’t be concerned, Imam Hussein is in all guests’ hearts, he’s with you.'”

The cleric mentioned 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 publish. 

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, mentioned Zam’s hanging was a “new crime of Iranian justice.” 

Sherif Mansour of the Committee to Defend Journalists mentioned Zam’s execution had seen “Iranian authorities be a part of the corporate of felony gangs and violent extremists who silence journalists by murdering them.”

“This can be a monstrous and shameful act, and one which the worldwide neighborhood should not let cross unnoticed,” Mansour mentioned. 

Iran is among the world’s high executioners. 

Zam is one in all 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 kidnapped by Iran whereas staying in Dubai, his household has mentioned. 

Iran is also believed to have seized the previous head of the Arab Battle 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 assault on a army parade that killed at the very least 25 individuals and wounded 70.

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