An Iranian court has sentenced a popular dissident blogger Ruhollah Zam to death after he was found guilty of ‘instigating’ protests that led to unrest in the country.
Ruhollah Zam was found guilty of “corruption on earth”, which is considered one of Iran‘s most serious offences, a judiciary spokesperson revealed.
Zam was the publisher of Amadnews website, a popular anti-government forum which Iran accuses of inciting the nationwide protests of 2017-18.
The news network, which has around 1.4m followers on encrypted messaging app Telegram, shared damaging information about Iranian officials, which infuriated the government even more.
Some of the videos his network shared showed many Iranians challenging Rouhani and even Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Zam’s channel also shared times and organizational details for the protests as well.
The 2017 protests reportedly saw some 5,000 people detained and 25 killed.
Ever since the protest, Zam was exiled to France. However, he was lured to Iraq and arrested in 2019.
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) revealed that it had used “modern intelligence methods and innovative tactics”, which enabled it to “deceive” foreign services and arrest Zam.
The IRGC also alleged that Zam was “under the guidance” and protection of intelligence services in France, Israel and the US.
Telegram shut down the channel over Iranian government complaints it spread information about how to make gasoline bombs. The channel, however, later continued under a different name.
Zam had earlier denied the accusations of working with foreign intelligence services and inciting violence.
Zam is the son of Shiite cleric Mohammad Ali Zam, a reformist who once served in a government policy position in the early 1980s. The cleric wrote a letter published by Iranian media in July 2017 in which he said he wouldn’t support his son over AmadNews’ reporting and messages on its Telegram channel.
Separately, the judiciary spokesman said an appeals court had upheld a previous prison sentence for Fariba Adelkhah a prominent researcher with dual French-Iranian citizenship. Esmaili said she got two separate sentences, a five and a one year prison terms on security charges and that under Iranian law, the longer sentence is the one a convict serves. He said her time spent in jail will count toward the sentence.
Iranian officials disclosed last July that Adelkhah had been arrested on espionage charges. Those charges were later dropped but security-related charges remained against her.
Adelkhah and her French fellow researcher, Roland Marchal, were held in Iran’s Evin Prison. Authorities released Marchal in March in an apparent prisoner swap for Iranian Jalal Ruhollahnejad, who had been held in France.
Iran, which does not recognize dual nationality for its citizens, has a track record of detaining dual nationals or those with ties to the West