Tehran, Feb 11, Iran suspended access to internet sites including Gmail, the Google email service, as thousands of people took to the streets Thursday to mark the anniversary of the Iranian revolution, according to reports.
Iran’s telecommunications agency announced the suspension of access to Gmail in the country, according to the Wall Street Journal website.
Many online and text messaging services Wednesday were blocked while internet speeds slowed rendering Facebook, Yahoo Messenger and Twitter unusable.
Access to Gmail, Google’s email service, was blocked permanently Wednesday, according Iranian Labour News, a state-run news agency.
Google did not confirm the blockage of its sites in Iran, but said users there were having difficulty accessing their mail service.
“We can confirm a sharp drop in traffic and we have looked at our own networks and found that they are working properly,” Google said in a statement on Wednesday.
“While information technologies are enabling people around the world to communicate like never before, the Iranian government seems determined to deny its citizens access to information, the ability to express themselves freely, network and share ideas,” US state department spokesman P.J. Crowley was reported as saying.
Following a contested national election, Iranian protesters last June used Twitter to organise themselves and send messages beyond Iran’s borders amid a violent crackdown by government backed militias.
Mobile phone footage of “Neda”, a young Iranian woman protester who was shot dead during a street demonstration became a symbol of Iranian resistance after images of her death were transmitted around the world.
“Virtual walls won’t work in the 21st century any better than physical walls worked in the 20th century,” Crowley said. The Iranian people are dynamic and determined and will find a way to overcome the obstacles the Iranian Government puts in their way, Crowley said.
According to reports, police confiscated satellite dishes from domestic rooftops and mobile phones were being searched and in some cases confiscated by patrolling officials in certain areas of the capital where protests have taken place recently.
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