Iranian prosecutor threatens to sue telecoms minister over Telegram messaging app

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

Deputy prosecutor general Abdolsamad Khorramabadi has warned he will take Mahmoud Vaezi to court over his alleged refusal to block thousands of channels on Telegram

Iran’s deputy state prosecutor has reportedly threatened to hit communications minister Mahmoud Vaezi with a lawsuit over popular messaging app Telegram.

According to a number of news outlets, deputy prosecutor general Abdolsamad Khorramabadi has warned he will take Vaezi to court for his alleged refusal to block thousands of channels on Telegram.

“For reasons known to the telecommunications minister, we have so far been lenient in our response to the ministry’s failure in carrying out judicial orders,” said Khorramabadi , according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran. 

“From now on if the minister does not carry out the orders, we will definitely file criminal charges against him after receiving permission from the prosecutor general and senior judicial officials.”

Khorramabadi, who is also the secretary of Iran’s main internet censorship body, the Taskforce to Determine Instances of Criminal Content, claims the telecoms ministry has refused to block “a list of about 8,000 channels on the Telegram network with criminal content against the people’s sacred and national values.”

The dispute is over OTT messaging service Telegram, which claims to be used by around 40 million Iranians around half of the country’s population. 

According to the Tasnim news agency, Khoramabadi claims extremist groups such as Islamic State have used Telgram channels. A channel ran by opposition group Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), considered a terrorist group by Iran, was cited by Khoramabadi as one that a blockage request has been issued against.

Vaezi, who was appointed to his post by President Hassan Rouhani, rejected the notion while cautioning the judiciary against ordering channels blocked solely for the channels' political affiliation.