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Dec. 7 2009 - 10:29 am | 46 views | 0 recommendations | 2 comments

Iran monitoring Facebook accounts of expats

Facebook, Inc.

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Iranian expatriates in the diaspora are facing a new threat: The Iranian government is interrogating and arresting the relatives of college-aged expatriates who post anti-government links on blogs, Facebook and Twitter. According to the Wall Street Journal:

In recent months, Iran has been conducting a campaign of harassing and intimidating members of its diaspora world-wide — not just prominent dissidents — who criticize the regime, according to former Iranian lawmakers and former members of Iran’s elite security force, the Revolutionary Guard, with knowledge of the program.

Part of the effort involves tracking the Facebook, Twitter and YouTube activity of Iranians around the world, and identifying them at opposition protests abroad, these people say.

Interviews with roughly 90 ordinary Iranians abroad — college students, housewives, doctors, lawyers, businesspeople — in New York, London, Dubai, Sweden, Los Angeles and other places indicate that people who criticize Iran’s regime online or in public demonstrations are facing threats intended to silence them.

In other words, ordinary Iranians or people of Iranian descent are finding out that their Facebook links are putting relatives at risk. Disgusting.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards are also routinely asking college-aged visitors if they have Facebook accounts while at Khomeini International Airport’s passport control. If they answer in the affirmative, the Guards may force the visitors to log into their accounts. The accounts are then searched for Farsi- and foreign-language links related to Iranian unrest. Thirty-six of the expatriates interviewed by the Journal reported being asked about their Facebook accounts; five reported being forced to open their account.

Elsewhere in Iran, here are pictures from Sunday’s protest.


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    About Me

    A New York-based journalist and blogger who has spent extensive time in the Middle East and is currently working on an MA thesis in Middle Eastern Studies. My thesis focuses on the 2009 Iranian election demonstrations and their coverage in the international media.

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    Contributor Since: July 2009
    Location:New York NY