IRAN HANGS JOURNALIST WHO SPURRED 2017 PROTESTS
Iran on Saturday executed a once-exiled journalist over his online work that helped inspire nationwide economic protests in 2017, authorities said, just months after he returned to Tehran under mysterious circumstances.
Iranian state television and the state-run IRNA news agency said that Ruhollah Zam, 47, was hanged early Saturday morning. The reports did not elaborate, Amir Vahdat and Jon Gambrell reported for the Associated Press (AP).
In June, a court sentenced Zam to death, saying he had been convicted of “corruption on Earth,” a charge often used in cases involving espionage or attempts to overthrow Iran’s government. Zam’s website AmadNews and a channel he created on the popular messaging app Telegram had spread the timings of the protests and embarrassing information about officials that directly challenged Iran’s Shiite theocracy. Zam is the son of Shiite cleric Mohammad Ali Zam, a reformist who once served in a government policy position in the early 1980s. The cleric wrote a letter published by Iranian media in July 2017 in which he said he wouldn’t support his son over AmadNews’ reporting and messages on its Telegram channel.
Those demonstrations, which began at the end of 2017, represented the biggest challenge to Iran since the 2009 Green Movement protests and set the stage for similar mass unrest in November of last year. The initial spark for the 2017 protests was a sudden jump in food prices. Many believe that hard-line opponents of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani instigated the first demonstrations in the conservative city of Mashhad in northeastern Iran, trying to direct public anger at the president. But as protests spread from town to town, the backlash turned against the entire ruling class.