Iran′s President Hassan Rouhani condemns Telegram ban | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 05.05.2018
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Iran's President Hassan Rouhani condemns Telegram ban

No social network has been banned "by this government," said the Iranian president. The Iranian judiciary blocked access to the encrypted messaging app, citing its alleged use in criminal activity.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has criticized a judiciary-imposed ban on the popular Telegram messaging app, saying his government did not support such measures, reported the semi-official ISNA news agency on Saturday.

"No social network or messenger was blocked by this government and won't be blocked," Rouhani said. "The government wants a safe but not controlled internet. We want a free flow of information as well as the right for citizens of free choice online."

Read more: Germany's police use Trojan virus to evade phone encryption

Hassan Rouhani

Rouhani, a reformer, has often been in conflict with hard-line elements in Iran

Iran's judiciary ordered internet service providers on Monday to block all access to Telegram, which is used by an estimated 40 million people in the country.

According to the judiciary, security services had requested that the encrypted messaging app be blocked, citing its use in illegal activities, including "propaganda against the establishment, terrorist activities, spreading lies to incite public opinion, anti-government protests and pornography."

Earlier this year, the government blocked access to Telegram during anti-government protests, saying it had been used to organize some of the demonstrations. But the move was temporary and access to the service was restored shortly after the protests subsided.

From Tehran to Moscow

Telegram has come under pressure from authorities in Iran and elsewhere, who have accused the service of not doing enough to remove illegal content and to stop terrorist groups from communicating.

Last month, Russia blocked access to the service in a move widely condemned by Telegram's Russian founder and CEO, Pavel Durov, after he refused to hand over encryption keys to intelligence agencies.

Read more: Is WhatsApp a threat to India's security?

"Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed," Durov said.

The ban prompted protests in Moscow last week, with demonstrators urging authorities to restore access to the service or face wider civil unrest.

Telegram was founded by Russian entrepreneurs Pavel and his brother Nikolai Durov in 2013. It is registered in both the UK and US but does not disclose where it rents offices. According to press reports, Telegram did have offices in Berlin three years ago, but the team operating the service is currently based in Dubai. 

Protesters in Moscow

Russian protesters have called on authorities to restore access to the encrypted messenger app

ls/jm (AP, dpa)

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