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When a government is afraid of its own people, it seeks to stifle the free flow of news and information. In Iran, the government continues to crackdown not only on human rights activists and opposition politicians but on journalists and bloggers – and on their web-based outlets.
The press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders says that in Iran journalists and bloggers are routinely the victims of baseless charges and arrest, and that internet users in particular are being targeted by authorities at this time.
In a recent statement, Reporters without Borders said, "The Internet and its users have become the new targets for repression by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's supporters ... After suspending newspapers, the authorities are attacking one of the easy ways to access information about arrests and protests in Iran." Many websites in Iran have been filtered or hacked, and Reporters without Borders says that "all of Iran's news websites are now threatened with termination."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted recently that the fundamental right to free expression extends to the new methods available in the 21st century. "Freedom of expression ... is no longer just defined by whether citizens can go to the town square, or the town hall and criticize the government without fear of retribution," said Secretary Clinton. "Advances in technology, from email and blogs to Twitter and text messaging, have opened up new forums for exercising free speech, and created new targets for those who would suppress the open exchange of knowledge and ideas."
The U.S. is committed to defending freedom of expression on the new terrain of the 21st century, said Secretary Clinton. In that spirit, the U.S. urges Iran's leaders to stop politically motivated arrests and suppression of free speech and live up to its international obligations to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.