Iran’s Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence for journalist Ruhollah Zam, the founder and editor of the Amad News Telegram channel.
Zam was sentenced to death on June 30, 2020. Judiciary spokesperson Gholamhossein Esmaili said the court had "recognized 13 of the charges against Zam as a case of corruption on earth".
On December 2, Ruhollah Zam’s Paris-based lawyer Hassan Fereshtyan told IranWire that Zam’s family were "between hope and despair” while they waited to hear the Supreme Court’s verdict. Zam’s wife and lawyer had held out some hope that Zam's father, Mohammad-Ali Zam, who served in senior government positions in Iran in the 1980s and 1990s, might be able to persuade Iranian authorities, including Ayatollah Khamenei, to grant him clemency.
Revolutionary Guards announced they had arrested Ruhollah Zam on October 14, 2019 and his wife told IranWire a few days later that her husband had been kidnapped by Guards agents after he traveled from Paris to Baghdad. Following his arrest, the Guards described Zam as “the head of the counter-revolutionary and hostile Amad News network.” They have also accused him of spying for the FBI, CIA,MI6, and the French intelligence services.
Free speech advocates and activists and other journalists say Zam has been targeted for Amad News’s reporting on corruption among some of the Islamic Republic’s highest officials. The channel was also blamed for inciting widespread protests in 2017. At one time, the channel was said to have more than 4.1 million subscribers.
Like many other journalists who have angered Iranian authorities and been targeted by them, he was forced to confess to his crimes on Iranian state television.
Prior to his arrest, Zam had been living in exile in Paris since 2011. Although the French government has condemned the arrest, but are not willing or able to act on his behalf.
Zam’s arrest and trial have been among the most widely covered in the media, along with the dramatic account of his alleged kidnapping and authorities’ determination to make him an example for other journalists who refuse to report the official narratives disseminated by the Islamic Republic.
In recent months, Zam has been held in an unknown facility under the supervision of the Guards, and has been barred from choosing his lawyer, a tactic routinely used against prisoners facing charges related to national security.