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Iran executes journalist Ruhollah Zam in widely condemned move

Iranian dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam, who was convicted of fomenting violence during the 2017 anti-government protests, was executed on Saturday, Iran's semi-official Nour news agency reported.

Once-exiled journalist known for online coverage of protests over economic hardship

Ruhollah Zam speaks during his trial at the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on June 2. (Ali Shirband/Mizan News Agency via The Associated Press)

Iranian dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam, who was convicted of fomenting violence during the 2017 anti-government protests, was executed on Saturday, Iran's semi-official Nour news agency reported.

Iran's Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the death sentence of Zam, who was captured in 2019 after years in exile. His Amadnews feed had more than one million followers.

State broadcaster Seda va Sima said on Saturday that Zam, "director of the counter-revolutionary Amadnews network, was hanged this morning."

The execution drew immediate international condemnation. "This is barbarous and unacceptable act," the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement, which also condemned the execution as a "grave blow" to freedom of expression and media freedom in Iran.

Canada condemned Zam's execution, saying journalists perform "essential work" and that Ottawa would hold "Iran accountable for its violations of human rights."

The German Foreign Ministry expressed shock about the circumstances of Zam's conviction and what it described as his "abduction from abroad."

Diana Eltahawy of Amnesty International said Zam's "execution is a deadly blow to freedom of expression in Iran and shows the extent of the Iranian authorities' brutal tactics to instill fear and deter dissent."

The son of a pro-reform Shia cleric, Zam, 47, fled Iran and was given asylum in France.

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

Iranian officials have accused the United States as well as Tehran's regional rival Saudi Arabia and government opponents living in exile of stoking the unrest, which began in late 2017 as regional protests over economic hardship 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 website AmadNews and a channel he created on the popular messaging app Telegram had spread the timings of the protests.

With files from The Associated Press

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