News / Middle East

US Company Shuts Down Iran Opposition Website

Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karoubi (file photo)
Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karoubi (file photo)
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— A U.S. web-hosting company has shut the website of an Iranian opposition leader held under house arrest in Tehran to comply with U.S. sanctions, underscoring the unintended impacts of some of the curbs imposed on the Islamic Republic.
 
Washington has imposed sanctions restricting U.S. entities' trade with and provision of services to Iran in a dispute over Tehran's nuclear program. The June election of centrist cleric Hassan Rouhani to the presidency has raised hopes of a settlement and lifting of some sanctions.
 
Hosting company Just Host shut down the website of Mehdi Karoubi, a reformist cleric, in August, his former aide said.
 
Karoubi disputed the 2009 presidential election that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to office, and protests broke out across Iran. He and fellow reformist leader Mirhossein Mousavi have been held under house arrest since February 2011.
 
Mohammad Hossein Ziya, a former aide to Karoubi who runs his website from the United States, said he received a notice in August from Just Host telling him it could no longer host Karoubi's personal site, www.karroubi.ir.
 
In a letter to Ziya which he showed to Reuters, the company cited sanctions imposed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), under the U.S. Treasury Department.
 
“This sanction extends to include the country-code top level domains .IR, .SY, .KP, and .CU (Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Cuba),” the letter said.
 
“What's frustrating is that on one hand, our sites are filtered inside Iran and so Iranian companies are fearful of providing services to us, and on another hand we face the sanctions,” Ziya said. “It's like being caught in a pair of scissors.”
 
Iranian officials and opposition figures alike have criticized the sanctions for blocking vital imports, while dissidents say they hurt their ability to organize.
 
The June election of President Rohani has raised expectations of a negotiated settlement to Iran's nuclear dispute with the West and a lifting of some sanctions. The West accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran says its research has purely peaceful, civilian aims.
 
Tehran maintains an extensive web filter and blocks sites it deems critical of the government, including Karoubi's personal site, which includes statements, pictures, a biography and news related to the former parliament speaker.
 
The U.S. Treasury Department loosened some sanctions in May, issuing a general license allowing U.S. firms to sell services and technology used for personal communications to Iranians.
 
A U.S. Treasury official declined to comment specifically on the closure of Karoubi's website, but said the general license allows provision of hosting services to Iranians for personal communications.
 
Deanne Dunne, a spokeswoman for Just Host's parent company Endurance International, in response to a Reuters query noted the license excludes the provision of hosting services that are for purposes other than personal communications.
 
“As a provider of cloud-based web solutions for small businesses and individuals, we are subject to the OFAC regulations,” Dunne said in an email. “This means that we cannot provide paid-for web hosting services to residents of certain sanctioned countries, including Iran.”
 
Iran's Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences, affiliated with the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, licenses the .ir domain, according to its website.
 
Operating a website using the .ir domain involves importing services from Iran, which violates U.S. sanctions, said Clif Burns, a sanctions lawyer at Bryan Cave LLP in Washington, D.C.
 
But OFAC would likely grant Ziya or the firm a license to run the site, Burns said.
 
“OFAC has said, generally speaking, it will grant such a license,” he said. “Once he has the licenses ... the web hosting service ought to do it.”
 
Dunne said Endurance International would apply to OFAC for a license to provide services to a particular website if it fell “within the spirit of the general license”.
 
“However, unless and until we are granted a license, we cannot provide any services to individuals resident in Iran,” she said.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Zal from: US
September 17, 2013 5:16 PM
Not unintended consequences but part of a backdoor deal between the negotiators!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid