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Iran cracks down on websites critical of govt and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Iran cracks down on websites critical of government and Ahmadinejad

A wave of censorship has hit many Iranian and foreign Farsi-language websites since January 24. Most of the sites contain articles critical of the government and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose term expires on June 12. International news media websites have also been blocked since January 26, Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has reported.

“After directly targeting human rights activists, the authorities are now stepping up their control of the Internet, one of the few areas of freedom for Iran’s citizens,” Paris-based RSF said. “Internet filtering is not new in Iran but we are worried about the scale it has assumed and the fact that it is affecting all the main cities. We call for an end to the sanctions against these websites, which are sources of news and information.”

The Farsi-language site of the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (www.dw-world.de/dw/0,,641,00.html) has been inaccessible since January 26, as has the Farsi version of the Radio France Internationale site (http://www.rfi.fr/actufa/pages/001/accueil.asp) and the Arabic-language site of the satellite TV station Al-Arabiya (http://www.alarabiya.net/persian/).

According to the tests conducted by RSF on Wednesday and the day before, the blocking is affecting the cities of Tehran, Qom, Ahvaz, Karaj, Tabriz, Bousher, Meshedd and Shiraz.

Bahman Hedayati, the editor of the Parsine website (www.parsine.com), described the blocking of his site as “illegal” in an interview on January 26 for the Iranian news agency ILNA. The literary website Haftan (www.haftan.com) was blocked the same day by certain Internet Service Providers without any explanation. Iran’s leading literary critics have for the past three years been writing for the site, which is very popular with young Iranians.

Several news websites that criticise the government or belong to potential rivals of President Ahmadinejad have also been rendered inaccessible by ISPs since January 24. Farda News (www.fardanews.com) and Parsine (www.parsine.com/), sites that support Tehran mayor Mohammed Baqer Qalibaf, a future Ahmadinejad rival, are among those that have been blocked.

Cyber-feminists Parvin Ardalan, Jelveh Javaheri, Maryam Hosseinkhah and Nahid Keshavarz were meanwhile summoned before a Tehran appeal court again Wednesday. Calling for their convictions to be quashed, their lawyer, Masomeh Sotoudeh, said posting articles defending women’s rights did not constitute “subversive activities” or “anti-government propaganda.”

The four cyber-feminists were sentenced last September to six months in prison for contributing to the online newspapers Zanestan (“Women’s City” - http://herlandmag.net/) and Tagir Bary Barbary (“Change for Equality” - http://we-change.org/).

Date posted: January 29, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 374