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In this image, taken on December 30, 2017 by an outsider to The Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, university students participate in a protest inside Tehran University while riot police prevent them from joining other protesters, in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo, file)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran sentenced to death on Tuesday a journalist whose internet work helped inspire 2017 economic protests across the country.

Ruhollah Zam had returned to the Islamic Republic under unclear circumstances and was later arrested. Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili announced Zam’s sentence on Tuesday.

Zam ran a website called AmadNews that posted videos and embarrassing information about Iranian officials. He was living and working in exile in Paris before being convinced to return to Iran, where he was detained in October 2019.

The reporter later appeared in televised confessions admitting his mistakes and apologizing for his activities.

Zam managed a channel on the Telegram messaging application that spread messages about the protests in 2017 and shared videos of the demonstration. This gave him wide notoriety at the time, including among the Iranian authorities who wanted to end the mobilizations.

Telegram closed the channel on complaints from the Iranian government that it was broadcasting information on how to make firebombs. The channel later continued under a different name.

Zam is the son of Shiite cleric Mohammad Ali Zam, a reformer who held a government post in the early 1980s. The religious man wrote a letter published by Iranian media in July 2017 in which he said he would not support his son for his I work on AmadNews and the messages on their Telegram channel.

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Associated Press journalist Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates contributed to this report.