Iran takes tougher line on Internet

Reporters Without Borders is concerned about Mojtaba Lotfi, a theologian and former journalist who was arrested and imprisoned in May. He was tried at the end of July for “spying” and for “publishing false information” but the judicial authorities have not announced their verdict.

Lotfi posted an article entitled “Respect for human rights in cases involving the clergy” on Naqshineh, a Website which is also subject to judicial proceedings, in particular because of articles about the recent legislative elections. The site has been blocked since March on the orders of the authorities.


Besides, an official draft of a proposed law “on the punishment of crimes linked to the Internet,” published in the newspaper Iran, would create a legislative framework that would severely restrict free expression online: 1 to 3 years of prison for the dissemination of “information that poses a threat for the country’s internal or external security” and five to 15 years if the information is passed to “foreign states or foreign organisations;” “nauseating” content such as “sexual organs or sexual acts, including those involving heterosexual relations as well as homosexual relations or relations with animals” would be punished by up to a year in prison and a fine of 10 million rials (950 euros); and the dissemination of “false information” about regime officials will cost its author six months in prison and a 10 million rials fine.

Cybercafés and ISPs would be required to monitor all content to which they offer access, block “nauseating” or illegal sites, help the police to identify those responsible for disseminating such content, and preserve all connection data and the identity of their clients for three months after each online session.

From Reporters Without Borders, via Zescoop.