Officials cut Tehran Internet access ahead of major protest
Foreign media banned from reporting in Tehran from Dec. 7-9
Most of the Iranian capital’s Internet links with the outside world were down on Saturday, two days ahead of planned demonstrations by opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Sources close to Iran’s technical services told AFP the cut was the result of “a decision by the authorities” rather than a technical breakdown, but telecommunications ministry officials were unavailable for comment.
Officials furthermore revoked all foreign media permits, in an attempt to block any reports coming out of Tehran between Dec. 7 and Dec. 9.
“Police and elite Revolutionary Guards have warned that any ‘illegal’ rally will be fiercely confronted on Monday when the country marks Student Day, commemorating the killing of three students in 1953 under the former Shah,” reported Reuters.
Internet lines, texting and at times even mobile phone connections have often been cut or scrambled since Ahmadinejad’s contested re-election in June, but this was the first such occurrence a full two days before planned protests.
Iranian opposition groups are preparing to hold fresh demonstrations on Monday, several websites reported, as the nation marks the annual Students Day.
The elite Revolutionary Guards and other authorities have warned they will crack down on any attempt by regime opponents to hijack the event to mount further protests against Ahmadinejad.
Tehran on December 7 marks the 1953 killing by the shah’s security forces of three students, just months after a US-backed coup toppled popular prime minister Mohammad Mossadeq.