The United States on Friday announced the lifting of some trade sanctions on Iran to expand Iranians’ access to internet services, which the Islamic Republic’s government has limited amid tough crackdowns on protesters.
Tehran has imposed harsh restrictions on the Internet, including blocking access to Instagram and WhatsApp, following the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman detained by Iranian ethics police, which sparked a wave of protests in the country.
“Faced with these decisions, we will help ensure that the people here Iran should not be left isolated and in the dark,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised in a statement.
“This is a concrete step in giving meaningful support to Iranians to demand respect for their basic rights,” he said.
Condolences on the death of Mahsa Amini
Iran Protests over last week’s death have been shaken mahsa amini, who died last week after being arrested for “improperly” wearing an Islamic headscarf. The 22-year-old Kurdish woman spent three days in a coma after being detained by the ethics police.
This move by the Joe Biden administration will “expand the range of Internet services available to Iranians. With these changes, we are helping the Iranian people to be better equipped to counter government efforts to monitor and censor ,” said the Under Secretary. Treasury, Wally Ademo, in a statement.
The revision of the export license would allow access to software, including antivirus and malware tools, as well as cloud computing and video conferencing services that allow Iranians to access “fact-based information”, according to the Treasury.
Elon Musk speaks out in support of Iran
Blinken said these steps “further our efforts and commitments to ensure that the Iranian people can freely access information online” and “help to counter these efforts”. iranian government To survey and censor its citizens.
However, US officials acknowledged to journalists that the decision does not have immediate effect because “it does not eliminate every tool of suppression in communications.”
“Over time it will give Iranians more leverage to address the Iranian government’s efforts to act,” a senior State Department official said in a conference call.
Billionaire Elon Musk recently said he would ask the Treasury to allow an export license to authorize his Starlink satellite internet company to provide services to Iran.
A senior Treasury official told reporters Friday’s move targets software rather than hardware, but encourages Starlink and others to apply.
This week, Democratic and Republican Congressmen from America sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in which she called on Iran to ease restrictions on Internet services, “clarify the rules for providing services to the Iranian people” and that “any companies (…) To expedite the relevant license request.”
According to a state media report, at least 17 people have been killed in Iran since the protests began. (AFP)