NUJ condemns execution of dissident journalist
24 December 2020
Following the state execution of dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam, the NUJ has called for Iran to desist in its persecution and harassment of journalists and media workers.
The sudden execution this month, following Zam’s abduction a year ago by the country’s elite Revolutionary Guards in Iraq and forced repatriation to Iran, was carried out without advance knowledge of Zam or his family.
During his exile in Paris, Zam’s publication of news and information of demonstrations and timings of protests on the website AmadNews, and social media channel on the messaging app Telegram, proved embarrassing to the Iranian state, breaking news of alleged financial corruption and videos of economic protests and civil unrest.
This comes against a backdrop of a crackdown against journalists and activists, including targeted abuse online, death threats, and the ongoing harassment and persecution of NUJ members working at the BBC’s Persian Service and Iran International. Acts of intimidation have included threats to kidnap journalists on the streets of London. The NUJ continues to work with lawyers and the International Federation of Journalists in international efforts to fight back, with a campaign to raise awareness of and challenge this harassment and abuse of media freedom and bring pressure to bear on the Iranian regime.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"This brutal execution of a journalist in exile, following a brazen abduction and show trial is a deplorable act that is of course a personal tragedy for Ruhollah Zam’s family and friends, but also a brazen message designed to silence other journalists and undermine media freedom.
"Despite the risks to his personal safety, Zam continued to publish information and news that the Iranian regime found a challenge to their authority, and he has paid the ultimate price.
"This is the latest horrific act of a government who are actively persecuting exiled journalists around the globe, including here in the UK, where NUJ members at the BBC Persian Service and at Iran International have been subjected to abuse, intimidation and harassment, both directly and via the outrageous weaponisation of their families.
"This criminalisation of journalism and attacks on media freedom by the Iranian state has to stop and they need to understand that the international community will not allow them to get away with this with impunity."