Iran (12/12). Iran executed a dissident on Saturday after convicting him of encouraging a wave of antigovernment protests in 2017 through an opposition Telegram channel he ran from exile in France, Iranian news outlets reported.
Ruhollah Zam ran Amad News, a popular channel on the messaging platform Telegram, which he used to share logistical details about the protests that rocked Iran in late 2017. His posts included protesters’ videos that helped publicize the news of the uprising at a time when the country was trying to suppress information.
He had been in exile in France since 2011 and lived there until 2019, when he flew to Iraq and was later captured by the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. He was hanged after being convicted in June of the crime “corruption on earth,” which is often used to describe attempts to overthrow the Iranian government.
The press advocacy group Reporters Without Borders condemned Iran for hanging Mr. Zam.
The group said on Twitter that it was “outraged at this new crime of Iranian justice and sees @ali_khamenei as the mastermind of this execution,” referring to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran, Like Russia Before It, Tries to Block Telegram App – The New York Times (nytimes.com) but in December 2017, Telegram shut it down after the Iranian authorities argued that it incited violence by encouraging protesters to use Molotov cocktails. Mr. Zam quickly created a new channel. His channels also harassed journalists, academics and analysts whom they viewed as not working to overthrow the Iranian regime.
He was lured into taking the trip to Iraq, where he was hoping to meet with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, an influential Iraqi Shiite cleric with close ties to Iran and a rival of Mr. Khamenei, to discuss financing for his media venture, according to Mr. Moini.
Ruhollah Zam was the son of a senior and well-known cleric, Mohamad Ali Zam, the former head of a government propaganda agency. He was born the same year as the Islamic revolution that toppled the monarchy in Iran, and he was named after the founding father of the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Mr. Zam went into exile after he was arrested in 2009 amid protests that rocked Iran in the aftermath of a contested presidential election. He left Iran for Malaysia and then France, where he obtained political asylum.
On Saturday after news of Mr. Zam’s execution, his father posted a statement on his Instagram account. The senior Mr. Zam said prison officials called the family to visit his son on Friday, a day before he was hung, but did not tell the family they were about to carry out the execution.
The elder Mr. Zam said the officials instructed the family not to inform his son that an appeals court had upheld his death sentence. The family prayed and cried together, the statement said. Mr. Zam said his son told him that he had learned from interrogators the plan was for him to be exchanged in a prisoner swap and that the self-incriminating confessions he was forced to make on video were meant for show.
The 2017 protests which the younger Mr. Zam helped publicize were triggered by a jump in food prices but quickly turned into a nationwide uprising against Iran’s rulers, one of the biggest challenges the authorities faced since the Green Movement protests in 2009.
Security forces cracked down on the protests by arresting thousands of demonstrators, and dozens of others were killed. New protests last year, this time triggered by a jump in gas prices, turned into the deadliest unrest since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. According to Amnesty International, at least 304 people were killed during the uprising.