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Harassment and Censorship Continue on Election Day

(June 14, 2013) – Reports coming out of Iran today highlight further incidents of the censorship and harassment of activists that have characterized this month’s presidential election campaign in the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI).

The logo of “Unknown Cyber Jihad”, which has taken responsibility for the hacking of several opposition websites

In one incident, the head of political advertising for the campaign of moderate/reformist presidential candidate Hassan Rowhani in the town of Fasa in Fars Province was the victim of an acid attack. ILNA, a semi-official news agency, reports that the aide, Younes Mehdipour, was beaten by an “unidentified group” in front of the town’s agricultural training school, after which one of the assailants sprayed his face with acid. Mehdipour was taken to the local hospital, where he is being treated for his injuries.

Meanwhile, Rowhani’s campaign has been subjected to further censorship. Yesterday, IHRDC reported that Rowhani’s second campaign documentary had been substantially censored before being aired by the IRI’s state broadcasting service. Today, Rowhani’s campaign website was temporarily shut down this morning under the orders of the IRI’s Ministry of Interior. This morning, the website’s administrators were informed that the website had been taken down due to the addition of a feature allowing Mr. Rowhani’s supporters to register their names and the times and locations where they casted their votes. Administrators removed the feature and the site was restored shortly thereafter.

Similarly, the news analysis site Farda (Tomorrow), which supports Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, a conservative candidate, was also temporarily shut down on the grounds that the site was engaging in political advertising after the June 12 deadline for campaigning. It should be noted that Ghalibaf defended the IRI’s onerous internet filtering policies during the campaign.

Reports indicate that attacks against websites belonging to human rights organizations and opposition groups outside of Iran also continued today: at last count, thirteen websites had been hacked by the “Iran Cyber Army.” This follows similar attacks in recent days and reported government attempts to hack the email accounts of several thousand Gmail users in Iran.