Iran execution spree continues: Hangs journalist after murdering wrestler

Written by on December 13, 2020

Iran has become increasingly brazen and open in its killing of random innocent people for everyday acts.

Ruhollah Zam, a dissident journalist who was captured in what Tehran calls an intelligence operation, speaks during his trial in Tehran, Iran June 2, 2020 (photo credit: MIZAN NEWS AGENCY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

Ruhollah Zam, a dissident journalist who was captured in what Tehran calls an intelligence operation, speaks during his trial in Tehran, Iran June 2, 2020

(photo credit: MIZAN NEWS AGENCY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

Iran has hanged a journalist convicted of “corruption on earth” after accusing him of running an “anti-Iran” and “counterrevolutionary website” while ”orchestrating anti-government riots,” Iran’s Tasnim News Agency reported Sunday.

Iran’s pro-regime media accused Ruhollah Zam of running Amad News, a website that published content critical of the regime. Amad ran “fake news” and sought to drive a wedge between the Iranian people and government, Tasnim said.

The Islamic republic killed up to 1,400 protesters in 2018, suggesting that there was already a large wedge between the people and a government that hangs journalists and ordinary protesters. Iran’s Supreme Court upheld the death sentence, Iranian media said.

Iran has become increasingly brazen and open in its killing of people for what passes in the West as free speech. It boasted of killing Zam and mocked international appeals to stop the execution of Navid Afkari, a wrestler, who it accused of involvement in protests in 2018.

European diplomats, with the exception of France, did not condemn the execution of Zam.

Iran brags that it was able to kidnap the journalist in an “intelligence operation” of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Intelligence Organization, which lured Zam from France to Iraq and then apparently kidnapped him there.

Iran made no effort to suggest that the trial was fair or that Zam was not simply illegally renditioned and executed. It did not even pretend that he committed serious crimes, admitting it hanged a man for journalism, “corruption on earth” being a nebulous and meaningless charge.

Iran also held Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a British-Australian academic hostage, and used her as a bargaining chip over the past two years, releasing her in a deal in early December. Once again, there was no pretense that a real crime was committed.

Iran openly holds Westerners as hostages and kidnaps them. It also jailed a teenager recently for 10 years after she posted a distorted photo portrait on Instagram. Her “zombie-like” image was said to be “blasphemy,” although it is not clear how a distorted image of a face is blasphemous.

Iran, like Turkey, has become increasingly a country that imprisons freethinkers, progressives, dissidents, journalists, athletes, women and basically anyone who is not part of the far-right theocratic ruling regime.

Where in the past, some Western governments that tend to pay lip service to human-rights issues might have spoken up, today there is largely silence in Europe as countries seek trade deals with Iran and Western think tanks push to restore a new Iran nuclear deal.

There is no attempt to get Iran to end the executions of journalists and others included in such a deal, and Iranian officials tend to be greeted with open arms by countries that ostensibly believe in human rights.

The killing of Zam illustrates the increasing threat to journalists in the region. Turkey, the largest jailer of journalists, has pursued people for expressing criticism on Twitter, for painting protest art and for merely reporting facts about Ankara’s support for extremists in Syria.

Journalists such as Can Dundar have been harassed and forced into exile and their assets in Turkey seized. Unlike Iran, Turkey is a member of NATO, an alliance that once claimed to support values like democracy and a free press.

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