October 18, 2019
The wife of an anti-regime activist captured by Iranian agents accused the Islamic Republic of kidnapping her husband after he arrived in Baghdad from Paris on October 12.
Mahsa Razani told IranWire that her husband, Rouhollah Zam first flew to Jordan on October 11 and on October 12 took a flight to Baghdad. Next, she heard from him the following day, when in a one-minute telephone call he only told her in an unusual tone that he was fine.
Zam has been a vocal critic of the Islamic Republic for the past several years with a large following on social media, often spreading information about corruption by officials.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards announced on October 14 that they have detained Zam through “an elaborate” scheme, luring him back to Iran. Later, Le Figaro quoted French officials as saying that Zam had flown to Iraq. The paper also quoted sources as saying that Iranian agents had convinced Zam that Iraq’s influential Shiite religious leader Ali al-Sistani was ready to meet him.
Iran has substantial intelligence presence in Iraq, controlling tens of thousands of Shiite militias and influence in political circles. If Zam was tricked into going to Baghdad it would not be hard for Iranian intelligence to detain him and take hin across the border to Iran.
After the Figaro report, the French foreign ministry on Wednesday, October 16 made its first public statement about Zam, confirming that he left the country on October 11, without commenting if he was under French police protection, saying he was free to leave or enter the country.
However, the ministry called for respect for “the rule of law, including freedom of expression”, strongly condemning Zam’s arrest.
Iran has detained two French nationals on ambiguous grounds and the foreign ministry also demanded their quick release.