Jail, blocking, threats from Iran-Global Voices

December 1, 2008

Iran: Cyber Writers Jailed and Threatened and Millions of Sites Filtered
Iranian cyber writers are facing a very difficult time. We can summarize Iran’s current situation in three words: Jail, Filtering and Threats.
Hamid Tehrani
Global Voices Advocacy: November 23, 2008


Cyber writers in jail
Iranian authorities recently jailed two cyber writers. Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reports online journalist Shahnaz Gholami’s arrest at her Tehran home on November 9. She was the editor of Azarzan blog. RSF also reports that theologian and online journalist Mojtaba Lotfi was arrested on October 8 for posting a sermon by a well-known opponent of Supreme Guide Ayatollah Ali Khamenei online.

At the end of October, Mojtaba Saminejad, a former jailed blogger, writes that security forces threatened his wife and himself because of his blog and political ideas. The blogger adds that his wife has been under pressure by security agents to complain against him. He has not updated his blog since October 29.

More than five million sites filtered
Meanwhile, Iranian authorities announced that more than five million sites are being filtered. Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, a high-ranking judicial official, said [fa] that enemies try to hurt our religious identity by using the Internet. No-filter, a site that is fighting against filtering, says [fa] that Iranian authorities spoke about filtering 10 million sites two years ago. Unfortunately, Iranian authorities are not precise about how many sites have been filtered over the previous months and years and there is no real information about their content.

It seems that for Iranian authorities filtering is not enough. According to BBC Persian, Sobh Sadegh, the official publication of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, has recently published an article about the Internet in Iran.

Sobeh Sadegh alleged that foreign governments are helping to establish independent websites in Iran. These websites are used, they say, to transform the Internet into an instrument for a “velvet revolution.”

According to the same source, the Islamic Republic’s Parliament has published a “study” of independent websites and blogs that they allege are devoted to a “soft overthrowing” of the Islamic state.

It is interesting that Iranian authorities forget that Iranian official, semi official and Islamist “independent” sites launch their sites in different languages as well. Semi official Farsnews publishes in Arabic, English and Turkish. Sajjad, an Islamist site covering news about war has a site in English and another in Hebrew.

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