4 European countries withdraw from Iranian business forum after arrest of dissident journalist

Ambassadors for four other European countries pulled out of a business forum planned to start Monday with Tehran’s foreign minister, following international outcry over the execution of journalist Rouhollah Zam.

Zam, 47, was convicted in Iran of stirring up dissent during anti-government protests in 2017, and was hanged Saturday, after he was found guilty of “corruption on earth”.

On Monday, the ambassadors of France, Germany, Austria and Italy to Iran, along with the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell, were meant to take part in the Europe-Iran Business Forum, along with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

However, France’s foreign ministry said on Sunday that, along with Germany, Austria and Italy, it would not take part in the event. An official at Germany’s foreign affairs ministry also tweeted that “due to current developments” Iran, Germany and other EU countries would not participate in the event. As a result, the forum was later postponed.

On Saturday, France, Germany, Italy and the EU condemned the killing of Zam. “The European Union condemns this act in the strongest terms and recalls once again its irrevocable opposition to the use of capital punishment under any circumstances”, an EU spokesperson said a statement.

Iran summoned the ambassador of Germany, and condemned what it described as “interventionist statements” from the EU and German foreign ministry.

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