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Iran TV Shows Film Of Captured Dissident Apologizing To Regime

Screen grab form a foreign-based Persian TV program showing Rouhollah Zam. Undated

Hours after the Iran's Revolutionary Guard announced on Monday that it had lured a Paris-based Iranian dissident and "guided" him back to the country, state-run TV showed a short video about the case.

In the 90-second-long video aired at prime time, 20:30 local time, the dissident, Rouhollah Zam, says he regretted his media activities in exile in recent years.

While being blindfolded, sitting in an unidentified vehicle moving toward an unknown place, Zam briefly reiterates that he is remorseful and apologizes to the Islamic Republic establishment.

Referring to Paris where he lived, Zam says that he had been "absolutely wrong" in trusting France for providing security, adding that trusting foreign governments, such as the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey is also wrong.

According to Radio Farda's policies, we do not publish audio or video of statements or confessions deemed to have been made under duress.

UPDATE: In a more recent development, the French Le Figaro reported October 15 that France's Interior Ministry has confirmed Zam went to Iraq. The paper says according to some sources, he was tricked by an agent that he could have an audience with prominent Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani and went to Najaf, Iraq. In such a case, it would be easy for IRGC agents to capture him and take him across the border to Iran.

Also, naming Turkey along with Islamic Republic's adversaries is surprising since Tehran has always insisted on its friendship with Ankara.

Earlier, an IRGC statement had said that Zam who was guided by the French intelligence service and was supported by the U.S., Israeli and other spy agencies and was permanently protected with several layers of secret service coverage, including overt and covert protection, was detained by its intelligence organization.

In a "complicated intelligence operation," its agents lured Paris-based Zam, and "guided" him to Iran, the paramilitary force announced.

Without elaboration on the time and place of arrest, the statement boasted of using "deceptive" methods to detain Zam.

There has been no reaction to the news from Zam's acquaintances yet and it is not possible to verify the claim that he was lured back to Iran. The editor of Javan, an IRGC publication has indirectly indicated in a tweet that Zam might have been captured in a neighboring country.

Ruhollah Zam is an Iranian self-exiled activist and former journalist. He is best known for operating a Telegram channel named 'Amadnews'' which he founded in 2015.

Zam played a high-profile role in covering the 2017–18 widespread anti-Islamic Republic demonstrations and protests across Iran.

He was born into a clerical family in Tehran in 1973. His father, mid-ranking clergy, Mohammad-Ali Zam, is a reformist who served in senior government positions in the 1980s and 1990s.

The cleric father 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.

"I found that you crossed the red line," the mid-ranking cleric wrote, referring to comments his son's Channel circulated about the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "Our red line is the supreme leader, but you passed the red line."

Ruhollah Zam turned against the establishment after the 2009 Iranian presidential election protests and imprisoned in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison for some time.

Later, he fled and resurfaced in Paris.

Since then, he has been a thorn in the side of the Islamic Republic authorities.

In a tweet addressed to the founder of Telegram messenger, Pavel Durov, the Islamic Republic Minister of Communication, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi accused Zam of spreading hatred, training people for making Molotov Cocktail (gasoline bomb), armed rebellion, and sedition.

Immediately after the tweet, Amad News, with more than 1.4 million members, was blocked, and the CEO of Telegram messenger said in a statement that the site was suspended since it had disregarded the Channel's anti-violence regulations.

Nevertheless, Zam managed to recapture part of his audience by launching new channels under new names.

In its statement, the IRGC said Zam's arrest shows that the “enemies” intelligence services have been defeated by the power of the IRGC's intelligence organization, ISNA reported.

There is no evidence of Zam being a collaborator with any foreign intelligence organization.

In recent years, the Islamic Republic intelligence organizations have arrested several people for cooperating with the exiled journalist.

Zam's brother and sister were also detained for some time but later released.

Branding Zam as a traitor, Iran's monopolized state-run TV network showed a "documentary" to disgrace him as a "master of fake news."

Nonetheless, Amad News disseminated a lot of information about corruption in Iran that were later verified.