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Iran: Twitter and Facebook in Trial

Yesterday, Iranian authorities held the second round the of mass trial of protestors and reformist politicians. Defendants in this round included a 24 year-old French woman, Clotilde Reiss, who was accused of spying. Almost all the defendants were accused of inciting riots and undermining national security. The Iranian judiciary went on to blame a litany of Western intelligence agencies, media organizations, and software companies, including Israel's Mossad spy agency, Facebook, Twitter, Voice of America, BBC Persia, and even Google's new Persian-to-English translation software, for their roles in the supposed vast conspiracy. See photos from the trial here.

The semi-official Fars News site stated [fa]:

كشورهاي غربي علاوه بر فعاليت در حوزه شبكه هاي تلويزيوني در عرصه اينترنت نيز سرويسهايي را به اغتشاشگران ارائه دادند

Western countries besides activities in TV netwroks, provided services for trouble makers in internet.

The Iranian authorities said [fa] that:

سرويس دهی از سوی شرکت تویتر برای مخاطبان ايرانی (اين شرکت امريکايی به روز رسانی سرويس خود را که مستلزم قطع چند روزه بود را در مورخه بیست ژوئن با هدف حمايت و سرويس دهی به آشوبگران به تاخير انداخت)

Twitter delayed its planned upgrade to provide service for trouble makers.

This was in response to the U.S. State Department's announcement on June 20 2009 that it had contacted the social networking service Twitter to urge it to delay a planned upgrade that would have cut daytime service to Iranians disputing the June 12 election.

Iranian authorities also cited [fa] Facebook as a supporter of protestors as the social networking site provides a Persian version for Iranians.
Accusing Facebook and Twitter of providing services for “trouble makers” seems particularly unfair, as these social networking have been available for all Iranians and during the presidential election, including Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his supporters, who used digital means to promote their ideas.

It is also the case that the Iranian opposition use the internet, including Twitter and Facebook, to communicate and convey their messages because almost all other means of communication are controled by the Iranain State, censorship hits the media hard and journalists are repressed.

What is amazing is that You Tube was not named in this trial.Maybe in the next round!

Charitable spying act

Reza Rafei Froushani confesses that he was a spy of UAE and published secrets in Facebook!

He writes:

در زمان انتخابات سرويس اطلاعاتي امارات مطالبي را خواستند و من نيز در پاسخ به تقاضاي آنها برخي اسناد محرمانه را در فيس بوك منتشر كردم

During the election UAE secret service asked for something and I published, because of their requests, secret documents on Facebook.

He adds:

وي افزود: به ما گفتند كه در انتخابات تقلب شده و بايد حق خود را پيگيري كنيم و من هم بدون سوء نيت و واقعا با اعتقاد در تظاهرات شركت و از تجمعات خبر و گزارش تهيه كردم و اخبار آن را نيز از طريق فيس بوك منتشر كردم

we were told [by Mir Hussein Mousavi's campaign] that the election was rigged and we should go after what was our right. I, without any suspicion, took part in the demonstrations and made reports and published them on Facebook.

Of course the whole story is beyond many people's imagination, because it is rather odd that an intelligence service would ask somebody to publish secret documents on Facebook. Could this be considered a “charitable spying act”?

Blogger Dr. Kourdan writes, with irony, that two leaders of the velvet coup, have been identified and condemned to be executed. Their names: Twitter and Facebook.

Fortunately, Twitter and Facebook are not human beings who can be imprisoned by the Islamic Republic. In Saturday's trial, several reformists, protestors and others accused of involvement in the velvet coup appeared in court. Some bloggers published photos of these people before arrest and after being jailed for several weeks. The weakened physical state of Mohmmad Ali Abtahi, a leading blogger and reformist, attracted considerable attention at last week's round of trials. But this time there were many more “Abtahis” in the courtroom, and, unfortunately, many more to come.

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