Iran executed rebel journalist Ruhollah Zam on Saturday morning, according to the country's semi-official ISNA news agency. Tehran's Revolutionary Prosecutor's Office announced Zam's execution by hanging. No further details have been issued except that he was hanged in Tehran. Zam was convicted of fomenting violence during the 2017 anti-government protests.

The hanging comes just days after Iran's judiciary announced that Iran's Supreme Court has upheld a death sentence against the 47-year old journalist. Zam was captured in 2019 after being in exile for years. International media had slammed Iran for conducting an unfair trail over the months and convicting Zam for espionage.

No Mercy

Ruhollah Zam
Ruhollah Zam Twitter

Zam's execution takes place just months after he returned to Tehran under mysterious circumstances. In June, a court sentenced Zam to death after convicting him of "corruption on Earth," a charge often slapped by Iran in cases involving espionage or attempts to overthrow the government.

Iran has also been accused by forcibly getting confession from Zam and his trial was labeled "grossly unfair" by international media. On Tuesday, Iran's Supreme Court upheld Zam's sentence, thus making sure that he would be executed within days.

Zam's website, AmadNews, and a channel he created on the popular messaging app Telegram, had more than a million followers. Zam, through his website and channel, gave detailed description including the timings of the protests and embarrassing information about Iranian officials that directly challenged the country's Shiite theocracy.

Blow to Press Freedom

Executed by hanging
Executed by hanging Pixabay

Zam's execution definitely comes as a serious blow to press freedom. His conviction has always been questioned, with Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calling it a "grossly unfair" trial. Zam's articles, which he used to publish online, inspired nationwide economic protests in 2017, and was seen as the biggest challenge faced by Iran since the 2009 Green Movement protests.

The initial outcome of the protests was a surge in food prices. The protests against Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, which are believed to have originated in the conservative city of Mashhad in northeastern Iran, soon turned into nationwide agitation against the entire ruling class.

Zam's writings played a major role in inspiring Iranian citizens, although he was already living and working in exile in Paris at that time. However, he was later arrested in October 2019 under still-unclear circumstances. Following his arrest, he met his father after nine years.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) at that time had said that it had "trapped" Zam in a "complex operation using intelligence deception." It did not mention the place of the operation. In the coming months, Telegram shut down the channel after Iranian government complained that it spread information about how to make gasoline bombs.