Iran executes opposition figure Ruhollah Zam

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran authorities on Saturday executed Ruhollah Zam, a former opposition figure who had lived in exile in France and was implicated in anti-government protests, days after his sentence was upheld.

State television said the “counter-revolutionary” Zam was hanged in the morning after the supreme court upheld his sentence due to “the severity of the crimes” committed against the Islamic republic.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili on Tuesday said Zam’s sentence was upheld by the supreme court “more than a month ago”.

London-based human rights group Amnesty International, in a statement after his verdict was confirmed, described Zam as a “journalist and dissident”.

It said the confirmation marked “a shocking escalation in the use of the death penalty as a weapon of repression”. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards announced the arrest of Zam in October 2019, claiming he had been “directed by France’s intelligence service”.

State television said he was “under the protection of several countries’ intelligence services”.

The official IRNA news agency said he was also convicted of espionage for France and an unnamed country in the region, cooperating with the “hostile government of America”, acting against “the country’s security” and instigating violence during protests in 2017.

At least 25 people were killed during the unrest in December 2017 and January 2018 that was sparked by economic hardship.

Zam, who was granted political asylum in France and reportedly lived in Paris, ran a channel on the Telegram messaging app called Amadnews.