Arrest of Amadnews Head Spurs Controversy in Iran

Monday, 21 October, 2019 - 07:30
London - Asharq Al-Awsat

A week after news of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard arresting opposition activist Roohollah Zam, debate broadened over the consequences of the body’s intelligence operations whether inside Iran or abroad.

The Revolutionary Guard said in a statement read out on state TV on October 14 that its agents captured and returned Zam, who headed the popular anti-government outlet Amadnews.

Iranian conservative politician Javad Karimi Ghodoosi tweeted about a number of officials close to the presidency being also arrested over being tied to Amadnews.

Calling for transparency, Ghodoosi tweeted: “Arrests that took place in the field of the Iranian presidency and linked to the site Amadnews should be clarified to the public.”

In its statement, the Revolutionary Guard described the action as a "complex operation using intelligence deception," but did not give further details. It, however, added that Zam who is accused of propaganda and attempts to foment insecurity and chaos and violent and terrorist acts in Iran was fooled to visit Iran and arrested.

Hours after announcing the arrest, Iranian state TV aired "confessions" by Zam, expressing "regret" and the need to "apologize" to every "regime establishment."

Making use of the encrypted safety of the messaging app Telegram and Amadnews, which he runs from abroad, Zam had previously vowed to take down the government.

Tehran shut down the channel on Telegram at the end of 2017 and has accused Zam's channels of "encouraging hateful content." But the channel reappeared under a different name.

Revolutionary Guard Commander Major General Hossein Salami hailed the Iranian intelligence bodies for shutting down an “enemy propaganda mouthpiece” by capturing Zam.

Salami said the Amadnews Telegram channel served the enemy through psychological warfare against Iran and was tasked with sowing discord and helplessness in Iranian society to incite unrest.

He described Zam's capture of an innovative intelligence operation at the highest levels of skillfulness which was completely surprising to enemies.

Zam, the 46-year-old son of reformist Shi'ite cleric Mohammad Ali Zam, has denied various claims that he has links to Iranian intelligence services or gets funding from foreign countries.

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