UPDATE – June 13, 2013
New reports from inside Iran indicate that in addition to Gmail and VPN service interruptions, Facebook, Yahoo Mail have become difficult to access and satellite television signals appear to be subject to intermittent jamming. Reports indicate that Yahoo mail services can take more than 30 minutes to open. ”The possibility of sending or opening a file within your email account is nonexistent,” said one source in Tehran. Iran News Update (INU) has also learned that Iran TV (the Iranian Resistance Channel) which is broadcast via satellite is being interrupted and jammed from 9 a.m. to 4 a.m.
“Blocking access to Google and other internet sites displays the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s paranoia about unfiltered news and information reaching the Iranian people,” said Ali Safavi of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. “What he does not realize, however, is that while the messenger can be blocked, the message cannot; that message is freedom and democracy which will find its way to the millions yearning for it in Iran,” Mr. Safavi added.
Earlier this week INU broke the news that access to Google Inc.’s email service Gmail had been disrupted throughout the country. Google, Inc has confirmed a drop in connectivity to Gmail in Iran.
Critics of the election accused paranoid mullahs of desperately trying to prevent anyone from using the internet to organize protests and demonstrations. “The Iranian Regime is ensuring they have control over the media and messaging surrounding the upcoming Presidential elections,” said an INU spokesperson. “Cutting off service to Gmail and slowing down the internet connection is just one method the Regime is employing to ensure control and limit communication both in and out of the country,” he added.
Sources say that regime officials at the Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI) refuse to accept any responsibility for the current internet disruptions and instead are placing the blame on internet provider companies.
The cut-off to Gmail services is reminiscent of events that occurred during 2010 ahead of protests marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The Iranian government suspended Gmail service to Iranian citizens to prevent protestors from networking and using its instant messaging component to easily communicate both to other citizens, the media and democracy advocates outside of Iran.
“The Iranian Regime is extremely worried about any news not vetted through their channels being reported at such a critical time this close to the election,” said Yves Bonnet a former Director of the French Counter-Terrorism Organization. “The communication system throughout Iran is under complete control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Regime’s Ministry of Information and it is clear the Regime is trying to control the rhetoric surrounding the election and limit communication amongst citizens. The Regime has further proven they are willing to employ dictatorial acts, such as banning Gmail service, to ensure it is done,” added Bonnet.
Also, in an unprecedented move, 100 members of the Iranian press corps belonging to the Mehr News Agency, an official media arm of the Regime, issued a statement protesting actions taken by Iran’s Internet Filtering Committee (IFC). The IFC is a government group that oversees Iran’s sophisticated state-mandated internet censorship program. The statement asserted the activities of news agencies and websites were being limited and noted that the Committee had “taken decisions, without the least consultation, which is repressive in nature and unwarranted.” The statement further said, “Sources not in the employment of the official media have been contacted and told either to delete specified text from their reports, or face the filtering of their websites.”
INU broke the story earlier this week on Twitter. As INU learns more the organization will update this story in realtime on Twitter at Twitter.com/IranNewsUpdate1 and on Facebook at Facebook.com/IranNewsUpdate.