Iran Upholds Death Sentence Against French-Based Journalist Captured Last Year

Ruhollah Zam, a dissident journalist who was captured in what Tehran calls an intelligence operation, is seen during his trial in Tehran, Iran June 2, 2020. REUTERS/FILE PHOTO.

DUBAI, Dec 8 (Reuters) Iran‘s Supreme Court has upheld a death sentence against a dissident journalist who was captured in 2019 after years in exile in France, the judiciary said on Tuesday.

Ruhollah Zam, whose Amadnews social media feed had more than one million followers, was convicted of fomenting violence during anti-government protests in 2017.

The son of a pro-reform Shi’ite cleric, Zam fled Iran and was given asylum in France.

France Says Iranian Activist Zam Had Refugee Status in France

In October 2019, Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards force said it had trapped Zam in a “complex operation using intelligence deception”. It did not say where the operation took place.

“Yes, the Supreme Court has upheld the sentence passed by the Revolutionary Court in this case,” judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili told a news conference streamed on a judiciary website.

Nour News, a news agency close to the Revolutionary Guards, said on Tuesday: “After traveling to Iraq in September 2019, he (Zam) was arrested by agents…of the Revolutionary Guards intelligence service and brought to Iran.”

The French foreign ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Iranian officials have accused arch-foe the United States as well as Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia and government opponents living in exile of fomenting the unrest, which began in late 2017 as protests about economic hardship and spread nationwide.

Officials said 21 people were killed during the unrest and thousands were arrested. The unrest was among the worst Iran has seen in decades, and was followed by even deadlier protests last year against fuel price rises.

Zam’s Amadnews feed was suspended by messaging service Telegram in 2018 for fomenting violence but had reappeared under another name.

[aesop_image img=”” panorama=”off” credit=”Ruhollah Zam. Kayhan London/File Photo ” align=”center” lightbox=”off” captionsrc=”custom” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom, additional reporting by John Irish in Paris; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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