The international NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has demanded that United Nations human rights defenders intervene in the death sentence of jailed Iranian journalist Ruhollah Zam.
Zam, a media activist and founder of Telegram channel Amad News was sentenced to death by an Iranian court in June 2020. He had been living in exile in France but was arrested during a trip to Baghdad and brought back to his country of birth.
The Supreme Court ruled on Zam’s appeal against the death sentence more than a month ago, but has yet to make its ruling public. Since then “news” of the confirmation or dismissal of Zam’s sentence has periodically appeared on social media, but each time has been shouted down by the authorities.
Earlier this week Ruhollah Zam's lawyer, the judiciary-appointed Darya Daryabeigi, insisted of the Supreme Court’s ruling that "no verdict has been served on me yet."
But on Tuesday, October 2020, RSF took to Twitter to state that “according to several sources” Zam’s death sentence had now been confirmed by the court. RSF called for “the urgent intervention of senior human rights defenders”.
It directed the tweet specifically at three prominent individuals within the UN: Michelle Bachelet, the current High Commissioner for Human Rights, Javaid Rehman, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, and Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial executions.
Zam was arrested in Iraq in autumn 2019 amid what the Revolutionary Guards called an "intelligence trap", and was then transferred to Iran. He spent a year under pressure from interrogators and was forced to “confess” on state television.
On June 30, 2020, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili confirmed that Zam had been sentenced to death in Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court, presided over by the infamous Judge Abolghasem Salavati. For running his dissident news channel Zam was charged with 13 separate offenses, including "corruption on earth”, spying, collaborating with the US government against Iran, “conspiring against national security”, engaging in “propaganda activities” against the Islamic Republic, “inciting people to war”, “spreading lies” and “insulting the Supreme Leader”.