June 30, 2020 / 11:10 AM / 10 days ago

Iran sentences former journalist to death for fuelling unrest

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran has sentenced to death Ruhollah Zam, a journalist-turned-activist captured abroad last year, for allegedly fuelling anti-government unrest in late 2017 on social media, Iranian media reported on Tuesday.

The son of a pro-reform Shi’ite cleric, Zam headed Amadnews, which had more 1 million followers on social media before it was suspended by the messaging app Telegram in 2018 after Iran accused it of carrying calls for violence during the protests.

The channel soon re-appeared under a new name.

Last October, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said they had “trapped” Zam, who had been given political asylum in France and was also based in other parts of Europe, in a “complex operation using intelligence deception”.

It did not say where the operation took place.

“Zam has been convicted of corruption on Earth by a Revolutionary Court,” judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said, according to the Mizan news agency, adding that he could appeal. The charge, used in cases of armed uprising and espionage, is a capital offence under Iran’s Islamic law.

Iranian officials have accused arch-foe the United States as well as Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia and government opponents living in exile of fomenting the unrest, which began as protests about economic hardship and spread nationwide.

Officials said 21 people were killed during the unrest and thousands were arrested.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi; editing by Philippa Fletcher

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