PARIS (Reuters) – France said on Sunday that its ambassador to Iran would not participate in an online business forum in Tehran this week, amid a growing dispute between Iran and European countries over the journalist’s execution Iranian dissident Ruhollah Zam.
Other envoys from Germany, Austria and Italy also canceled their attendance at the Dec. 14 event, the French Foreign Ministry said on Twitter. At the bottom of its tweet, the ministry posted the hashtag #nobusinessasusual.
In a separate statement, organizers of the Europe-Iran business forum later said they were postponing the event.
Previously, Iran’s foreign ministry summoned envoys from France and Germany, currently holding the rotating presidency of the European Union, to protest against criticism from France and the EU over the execution on Saturday, Iranian media reported.
France on Saturday called Zam’s execution “barbaric and unacceptable,” and said it flies in the face of Iran’s international obligations. Zam was based in Paris before being captured in Iraq and taken to Iran.
Zam was convicted of instigating violence during anti-government protests in 2017. His feed Amadnews had more than a million followers.
France and its European allies have worked to keep a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the great powers alive, in part to save Iran’s economy from collapse, while confronting US efforts to kill the agreement.
The new human rights friction comes as US President-elect Joe Biden, who is due to take office on Jan.20, has said he will bring the United States back to the Obama-era deal if the Iran was beginning to respect the agreement again.
The EU also strongly condemned the execution of Zam, as did Amnesty International and the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) press group.
Iranian officials accused the United States, along with Saudi Arabia, regional rival Tehran, Saudi Arabia and opponents of the government living in exile, of fueling unrest that began in late 2017. as regional protests against economic hardship spread across the country.
Officials said 21 people were killed during the unrest and thousands were arrested. The unrest was among the worst Iran has seen in decades and was followed by even more deadly protests last year against rising fuel prices.