A dissident journalist and founder of the Telegram channel Amad News has been sentenced to death in Iran.
The sentencing of Ruhollah Zam was confirmed by judiciary spokesperson Gholamhossein Esmaili, who added that the court had "recognized 13 of the charges against Zam as a case of corruption on earth".
The judge, however, has said that the verdict is not final and Zam was also sentenced to prison terms for several other charges.
Ruhollah Zam had been living in exile in Paris for many years. He fled Iran to France being detained and held in Evin Prison following the 2009 Green Movement.
In 2017 he founded Amad News, a channel that rapidly made a name for itself by publishing accountability journalism and news about corruption among top officials of the Islamic Republic. The outlet broke several key news stories including a corruption scandal involving then-judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani.
Amad's stories were a key driver behind nationwide economic protests in Iran in 2017. By the time it was blocked by Telegram that December, for allegedly sharing instructions on how protesters could make petrol bombs, Amad had more than 4.1 million subscribers. It has since continued under a different name.
On October 11, 2019, Zam traveled to Baghdad for an unknown reason. Then on October 14, Iran's Revolutionary Guards announced he had been arrested. Zam's wife told IranWire she believes he was kidnapped in Baghdad.
“In a professional, skillful and multi-faceted operation," a statement published by the Guards on Amad's own platforms said at the time, "the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Unit succeeded in directing and tricking foreign [intelligence] services and lured Ruhollah Zam into the country and arrested him."
Zam was described as the head of a "counter-revolutionary and hostile" news network that had "acted as one of the main bases of the enemy".
Footage was later broadcast by Islamic Republic officials showing Zam confessing to his supposed guilt while blindfolded. He has since appeared in subsequent televised confessions, apologizing for his past activities. in recent months admitting his wrongdoings and offering an apology for his past activities.
The trial has taken place in several sessions over the past year. In court he was repeatedly accused of being a spy and denied all charges against him.