Iran’s Rouhani defends execution of dissident journalist

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani defended on Monday the execution of a prominent dissident journalist based in France and captured by Iran last year, saying the death sentence passed on Ruhollah Zam was carried out lawfully.

European countries “have the right to comment, but Zam was executed upon a court’s ruling,” Rouhani told a televised news conference, noting that the judiciary was independent. “I think it’s unlikely that this will hurt Iran-Europe relations.”

Zam had been based in Paris and was seized last year in circumstances that have not been officially disclosed. A news agency close to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said last week he had been captured in Iraq.

He was convicted of fomenting violence during anti-government protests in 2017. His Amadnews social media feed had more than 1 million followers.

France called Zam’s execution on Saturday “barbaric and unacceptable”.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also called the execution “unjust, barbaric,” adding in a tweet: “Zam exposed the brutality and corruption of the regime, which has killed or arrested more than 860 journalists in its 41-year reign of terror.”

Iran’s foreign ministry summoned envoys from France and Germany, the current holder of the European Union’s rotating presidency, to protest over criticism of the execution, Iranian media reported on Sunday.

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