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Reporters sans frontières
Reporters Without Borders
IRAN : 400 cybercafes closed
14 May 2001 (the French version follows)
In a letter to the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, RSF protested at the closure of four hundred cybercafes in Tehran. Robert Ménard, the RSF general secretary, asked Ayatollah Shahroudi to "reverse this decision". "The cybercafes were an easy means to communicate with outside Iran and to be informed via foreign websites. In closing them down, the hard-liners show once again that they want to prevent Iranian citizens and especially the youth from being freely informed", he added. The organisation recalled that on 9 May two students contributing to the student magazine Kavir, were arrested. Iran has the largest number of journalists jailed in the world, with 23 professionals of the media behind bars.
According to information collected by RSF, about 400 cybercafes were closed down from 8 to 13 May in Tehran. The Iranian authorities gave an ultimatum to the cybercafes to obtain a "work permit and a licence to operate on Internet". In case of non homologation by the conservative-run trade union for computer and business-machine operators, the police can shut them down. After the 1997 election of President Mohammed Khatami, hundreds of cybercafes flourished in Tehran.
In Iran, control of the Internet occurs on several levels. First, the Ministry of Information manages the government's ISP, the Data Communication Company of Iran ( D C I ). The D C I then filters (or attempts to filter) pornographic sites and opposition sites based in or outside of Iran. Finally, private ISPs, which must be approved by the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Islamic Orientation, also have a filtering system for sites and e-mail. On 28 February 2001, RSF in collaboration with the magazine Transfert issued a report entitled "The enemies of the Internet - Impediments to the circulation of information on Internet", available onthe RSF website: http://www.press-freedom.org
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