By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
Ruhollah Zam, 47, was among several opposition figures seized by Iranian intelligence agents in recent months as Tehran struggles under U.S. sanctions’ weight.
Zam was hanged to death just months after returning to Tehran under mysterious circumstances, sparking outrage in several nations. “This is a barbarous and unacceptable act,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement. It also condemned the execution as a “grave blow” to freedom of expression and media freedom in Iran.
The German Foreign Ministry also expressed shock about the circumstances of Zam’s conviction and his “abduction from abroad.”
Diana Eltahawy of advocacy group Amnesty International said Zam’s “execution is a deadly blow to freedom of expression in Iran. And [it] shows the extent of the Iranian authorities’ brutal tactics to instill fear and deter dissent.”
Iranian state-run television referred to Zam as “the leader of the riots” in confirming his execution by hanging early Saturday.
In June, a court sentenced Zam to death, saying he had been convicted of “corruption on Earth,” trial observers said. The charge is often used in cases involving espionage or attempts to overthrow Iran’s government.
Zam leaves behind a legacy of sparks for change in the strict Islamic nation.
Colleagues recalled Saturday that AmadNews and a channel he created on the popular messaging app Telegram had spread the timings of the 2017 protests. They also refrained and embarrassing information about officials that directly challenged Iran’s Shiite theocracy.
Those demonstrations began in late December 2017 and continued into 2018. They were seen as the biggest challenge to Iran’s rulers since the 2009 Green Movement protests. They also and set the stage for similar mass unrest in November of last year.
The initial spark for the 2017 protests was a sudden jump in food prices. Analysts say hard-line opponents of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani instigated the first demonstrations in the conservative city of Mashhad in northeastern Iran. They allegedly tried to direct public anger at the president.
But as protests spread from town to town, the backlash turned against the entire ruling class.
It was not immediately clear how the execution would impact relations with the freedom-preaching European Union and others involved in nuclear talks with Iran.
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