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TV Interrogation Of Jailed Iran Dissident Facing Execution Amounts To 'Torture' - RSF

Rouhollah Zam being interrogated by controversial TV host. July 9, 2020
Rouhollah Zam being interrogated by controversial TV host. July 9, 2020

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has lambasted the Islamic Republic of Iran for interrogating the jailed director of the now-defunct dissident website AMAD News on TV.

Interrogating suspects on TV and airing it amounts to "torture" RSF says.

In a tweet on Saturday, July 11, RSF asserted that Mr. Rouhollah Zam has been in "solitary confinement" and his forced confession in front of TV cameras is the Islamic Republic's blatant admission to torturing prisoners.

The monopolized state-run Iranian Channel 2 TV showed Zam's forced confessions on Friday evening, July 10.

A notorious TV host with a record of conducting forced confessions on TV, Ali Rezvani, bombarded Zam with numerous questions about his private life and media activities during the Friday evening show.

While Rezvani claims that the video was shot "outside prison", Zam gives away the fact that he was being at the location where the video was taped.

Rouhollah Zam, who lived in France, was arrested on October 14, 2019 during a trip to Iraq and extradited to Iran. Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal, presided by a notorious hardline judge, Abolqassem Salavati, found the 41-year-old AMAD News director guilty of thirteen charges, including "corruption on Earth," and sentenced him to death.

Zam is also charged with "espionage for Israel and France." However, he insists that he was merely doing his job as a reporter.

During the TV show, the host accused Zam of launching "riots" in Iran. Zam immediately fired back by asserting, "you call it riots; we call it protests."

This part of the forced TV confession has been widely circulated on social media. Several users, including pro-Islamic regime elements, have asserted that it backfired. The producers of the video failed to achieve their aims, they say. Some independent Iranian journalists abroad said these few seconds made the whole program a victory for Zam.

Furthermore, the TV host/interrogator accused Zam of "betraying people," but the AMAD News admin dismissed the charge, insisting that he had not "endangered" people by his reports. People had already poured into the streets, Zam reiterated.

Earlier, Zam's father cited his son's attorney on his Instagram account as saying, "During all meetings with my client, one or two agents were always present and heard our conversation. Their presence made Mr. Zam hesitant and confused in expressing his mind."

Zam's father, Shiite cleric Mohammad Ali Zam, a reformist who once served in a public position in the early 1980s, asserted on his Instagram account that the death penalty against his son was illegal.

"My son has been deprived of his most fundamental rights during the trial," he lamented.

Despite such protestations, and regardless of petitions by Rouhollah Zam's relatives, the Islamic Republic's judiciary and intelligence services have forced him to "confess" in front of TV cameras and show it on prime time across Iran.

The state-run Iranian TV is notorious for airing so-called confessions of political prisoners, including suspects condemned to death.

Such TV shows have repeatedly met with widespread protests from international human rights organizations and civil rights advocates.

They have argued these TV shows amounted to "forced confessions," produced by the Islamic Republic's intelligence services.

According to a study published by the Justice Organization for Iran and the International Federation of Human Rights Societies in July this year, 355 cases of forced confessions have been registered over the past ten years in Iran.