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Trial Of Abducted Iran Activist Begins, With Threat Of Death Sentence

Rohullah Zam in an Iranian courtroom. February 10, 2020
Rohullah Zam in an Iranian courtroom. February 10, 2020

A court in Tehran held its first session on Monday, February 10, to try a controversial Paris-based Iranian activist, Rouhaollah Zam, local news outlets report.

Zam, 46, was the owner of AMAD (Persian acronym for Awareness, Combat, and Democracy) news, later renamed Seda-ye Mardom (Voice of the People.) He had been a vociferous critic of Iran for the past several years with millions of followers on social media, often spreading information about corruption by officials.

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' fearsome Intelligence Organization boasted on October 14 they had detained Zam through "an elaborate" scheme, luring him back to Iran. Later, the French daily Le Figaro quoted French officials as saying Zam had flown to Iraq. The paper also quoted sources as saying Iranian agents had convinced Zam that Iraq's influential Shi'ite religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani was ready to grant him an audience.

These reports indicated Zam might have been abducted in Iraq and taken to Iran.

In a session presided by the notorious ultraconservative judge, Abol-Qassem Salavati, the prosecutor charged Zam with seventeen criminal acts, including "active provocation of resistance forces and those serving the Islamic Republic Armed Forces into rebellion, desertion, surrender or refusal to implement their military duties."

Furthermore, the prosecutor also charged him with "corruption on earth", which could lead to a death sentence, "spying for the Israeli intelligence service through the spy service of one of the regional countries," "spying for the French intelligence service," "cooperating with the hostile government of US against Iran."

Based on the Islamic Republic laws, each of the charges is punishable by death.

Meanwhile, Zam was also accused of insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and his successor Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Illicit acquisition of assets worth $107,000.

Two days earlier, the spokesman of the Islamic Republic judiciary, Gholam Hossein Esmaeili, had announced that five others related to Zam's legal case were behind bars, while several are summoned to court.