07/21/2009, 00.00
IRAN
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Ahmadinejad now wants control of who uses the internet

In the power struggle within the Iranian leadership, the President shall implement a law requiring the storage of all that people send or receive on the net. But Khatami calls for a referendum and Mousavi wants the release of all those who have been imprisoned for taking part in demonstrations.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - The Iranian government is trying to put a stop to the internet, monitoring users and the Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei has warned against those who cooperate with the plans of “enemies of the homeland”, but the “reformists” respond: Former President Khatami and his Association of Combatant Clerics want a referendum to restore peoples confidence shaken by the presidential elections and the opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, has called for the release of those who have been arrested. In a further sign of deepening contrast, the Vice-President Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie - whose appointment by Ahmadinejad was criticised by the hardest Conservative wing - has denied that he had given his resignation, which had been announced Sunday.

"The exchanges between the opposition on one side and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his core of hard-line supporters on the other - notes Arab News, a Saudi daily particularly attentive to what happens in Tehran -appeared to be heating up, reflecting how the month-long conflict over Iran’s disputed presidential election is entering a new level — a struggle within the leadership itself”.  “The opposition – it continues - has been energized by a show of support last week from former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a key figure within the ruling hierarchy. On Monday, opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi made some of his harshest comments yet at hard-liners and, implicitly, Khamenei himself".  

Who is certainly not slow to respond. The announcement by the Government Press TV that the President has ordered Ahmadinajad to "execute" the recently approved law to fight cyber-crime and offer navigators “greater security” appears aimed at the opposition. Taking into account that in the post election period the opposition and demonstrators were able to exchange news and make known what was happening in the country abroad only through the net, the requirements of Article 24 of the Act, for which Internet providers must retain for three months, "all data sent or received by each of their customers”, is particularly significant. For the Attorney General, Qorban-Ali-Najafabad Dorr, quoted by Al Jazeera, the law is to protect the rights of people and help to attack pornography and other "prohibited content".

Reporters Sans Frontieres said that the Iranian government "recognizing the growing influence of blogs is trying to reduce their space, filtering and trapping sites that host them".

In this context, Khatami called for the referendum in these terms: "As millions of Iranians have lost confidence in the electoral process, the Association of Combatant Clerics insist on the organisation of a referendum ... by independent bodies”.  The last sentence is an attack on Khamenei, seen that, according to Iranian law, a referendum can be called only by the Supreme Guide. Khatami added that the Rafsanjani proposal for an agreement between reformists and conservatives to solve the crisis is "the minimum required to exit the current situation." For his part, Mousavi yesterday asked for the "immediate release" of those who were imprisoned for taking part in the demonstrations in protest against the results of the vote”.  (PD)

 

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