On Iran’s state TV on Monday Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said that the media could report any decline in the exchange rate, but should avoid reports that would further destabilize the market, essentially meaning that they shouldn’t report negative fluctuations in the exchange rates.
Dolatabadi shut down 17 websites and social media outlets last week that had been reporting real-time exchange rates based on observations at the markets in Tehran and other major cities.
While Iran’s Cyber Police Chief Kamal Hadianfar announced on Wednesday that they had identified 1381 websites that “created tension in the gold coin market”, reaching millions of Iranians every day. Over 500 have been blocked and 200 are currently being investigated.
The official news agency IRNA claims that many are being operated from abroad, in places like Canada and the UAE, which ignores the fact that the majority of Iranian websites, including some government sites, are maintained on servers in foreign countries as Iran’s internet does not have the bandwidth to serve all Iranian websites.
The price of gold coins has been steadily rising since February, in line with the decline in value of the rial, thanks to Regime corruption and mismanagement, social unrest, and US sanctions. Many Iranians have clamoured to trade in their rials for gold coins in order to safeguard their savings. Few trust banks or other financial institutions, given their history of failing to repay people’s investments, let alone the promised interest.
Mahmoud Vaezi, the chief of staff to President Hassan Rouhani, even summoned the editors of major Tehran newspapers to the Culture Ministry on Monday to tell them to “help the government to solve problems and inject hope and vitality in society”. This means that they shouldn’t report anything that would lead the Iranian people to (rightly) believe that the Regime was failing to resolve the ongoing economic crisis.
He said that the Iranian Regime was facing “a new situation”, likely meaning US sanctions that have come into force since Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, and that the mullahs needed the media’s help “to leave this situation behind”.
He said that the Regime’s “enemies have conspired to wage an economic war on Iran” and have created “a difficult economic situation”, so the media should try to keep the Iranian people happy.