Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has strongly condemned the execution of journalist Ruhollah Zam, who was hanged on Saturday, because of the Iranian government. The Ministry also called on the Iranian authorities to end the executions and adopt a moratorium on the death penalty. The arrest of the journalist who posted footage of the protests in Iran online was described as a major victory over Western intelligence services, by the Iranian authorities. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) claimed that Zam was under the protection of the French, Israeli and American security services, and he was accused of espionage and overthrowing of the Iranian government.
A few days ago, the Iranian authorities executed journalist Ruhollah Zam, who was accused of promoting the 2017 Iranian protests with his internet articles. He was sentenced to death in June when he was found guilty of causing unrest or “corruption on Earth,” and he was then executed last Saturday morning. AFP reported that he was hanged. The same sentence has often been used against people accused of spying and overthrowing the Iranian government. The Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned the execution and called on the Iranian authorities to impose a moratorium on the death penalty.
Zam spent a year of his life in exile, in Paris, and was then abducted and arrested by the Iranian operatives in 2019. It is not entirely clear where and how this happened, but some media outlets state that he was abducted during his trip to Iraq. His father, a Shiite imam who served in senior government positions in the early 1980s, publicly denied support for his forty-seven-year-old son. Iran’s official news agency reported that he was executed for spying for France, cooperating with the hostile U.S. government, acting against the country’s security, and insulting the sanctity of Islam. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned Zam’s execution and described the act as a cruel encroachment on the freedom of speech and the media in Iran. Members of the Reporters Without Borders organization also expressed their indignation, reminding that they had already warned the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet of the possibility of Zam being executed as early as October.
The anti-government protests in Iran began in December 2017, and the initial spark for the protests was supposedly the sudden jump in food prices. Many people also believe that the hard-line opponents of the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani instigated the first demonstrations in the conservative city of Mashhad; however, the protests later spread from town to town, and the backlash turned against the entire ruling class. Zam was issuing appeals, addressed directly to President Rouhani and to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. As the Iranian authorities complained that he was spreading information about how to make gasoline bombs, Telegram shut down Zam’s channel in 2018. At the time, Zam denied inciting violence and continued to publish his footage under a different name and on the Amadnews website. Twenty-five people were reportedly killed and 5,000 detained in the protests.