Executed Iranian journalist Ruhollah Zam was falsely promised release in a prisoner exchange by Iran’s authorities, who also gave him no notice of his execution, his father said on Saturday.
Zam, who Iran had convicted of inciting violence during anti-government protests in late 2017, was executed on Saturday, state media reported. He ran Amadnews, a channel on popular messaging app Telegram which had over a million followers.
Zam’s father, Mohammad-Ali Zam, a cleric who served in senior government positions in the 1980s and 1990s, said in an Instagram post that judicial authorities had falsely promised to release his son in a prisoner exchange.
Authorities “tricked” Zam into making false confessions and statements on that basis, claiming the confessions would facilitate the supposed prisoner swap, Zam’s father wrote.
Neither Zam nor his family were given notice for his execution, Zam’s father said, adding that Zam was also not informed the Supreme Court had upheld his death sentence.
Zam, who had been given political asylum in France and was also based in other parts of Europe, was captured in 2019 after years in exile. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said at the time they had “trapped” Zam in a “complex operation using intelligence deception.”
Zam was sentenced to death in June, and his death sentence was upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The European Union on Saturday condemned in the “strongest terms” Iran’s execution of Ruhollah Zam, a former opposition figure convicted of involvement in 2017 protests.
“The European Union condemns this act in the strongest terms and recalls once again its irrevocable opposition to the use of capital punishment under any circumstances,” said a statement from the EU’s External Action Service.
“It is also imperative for the Iranian authorities to uphold the due process rights of accused individuals and to cease the practice of using televised confessions to establish and promote their guilt.”
Zam was charged with “corruption on earth” — one of the most serious offenses under Iranian law — and sentenced to death in June.
State TV aired an “interview” with him in July, in which he is seen saying he believed in reformism until he was detained in 2009 during protests against the disputed re-election of ultra-conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The EU said the death penalty was “a cruel and inhumane punishment” that did nothing to deter crime.
“The European Union calls on Iran to refrain from any future executions and to pursue a consistent policy towards the abolition of the death penalty.”