Instagram blocks accounts of Iranian Guard commanders following terrorist designation

By bne IntelliNews April 17, 2019

The Instagram accounts of several Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commanders have been blocked with the photo-sharing website saying it was complying with US sanctions, Tabnak news website has reported.

The US on April 8 moved the IRGC to its list of foreign terrorist organisations (FTOs). Washington has never before placed an entity of a foreign government on the list. The unprecedented step has raised fears that the Trump administration is laying the groundwork for military action against Iranian armed forces.

Tabnak said Instagram blocked the accounts of Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, Major General Mohammad Bagheri and Major General Qassem Soleimani, head of the IRGC Quds force that runs operations outside of Iran. The English-language profiles of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's supporters were also blocked.

Contacted by AFP, an Instagram spokesperson said it was operating "under the constraints of US sanctions laws".

In a statement to the BBC Persian service, Instagram said: “We operate under the constraints of US sanctions laws. We work with appropriate government authorities to ensure we meet our legal obligations, including those relating to the recent designation of the IRGC.”

Iran's Telecommunications Minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi appeared to be referring to Instagram's move with a tweet on April 16.

"When you tear out a man's tongue, you aren't proving him a liar, you're only telling the world that you FEAR what he might say," he wrote on Twitter.

Facebook, Twitter and the Telegram messenger service are officially banned in Iran, meaning Instagram is the only major social media service accessible in the country without the use of a virtual private network, or VPN, to bypass censorship.

Related Articles

Russia indicates it may join EU’s Instex mechanism for trade with Iran

Russia has indicated it may be willing to process trade with Iran through the EU’s “Instex” payment mechanism devised to protect companies that wish to continue trading with the Islamic ... more

Trump’s latest line on “progress” in resolving dispute with Iran given short shrift by Tehran

When the newswires on the afternoon of July 16 reported Donald Trump as saying Washington had made a lot of progress in resolving its dispute with Tehran, the immediate feeling among many analysts ... more

Iran yet to show “significant noncompliance” with nuclear deal says EU foreign policy chief

Iran is yet to show any “significant noncompliance” with the 2015 nuclear deal and the remaining signatories to the accord have “for the time being” not indicated any intention to trigger the ... more