Publish dateSunday 9 February 2020 - 01:03
Story Code : 203071
US senators urge Twitter to ban Iran’s Leader, FM
A group of US Republican senators have called on Twitter to suspend the accounts of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
In a letter sent to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee threatened that the company would be subject to US sanctions law if it did not end its service to Iranian officials.
They argued that allowing Iran's Leader, and top diplomat to hold Twitter accounts violates an executive order by US President Donald Trump that prohibits Americans from providing goods and services to the Iranian statesmen.
"It is a sanctionable offense for 'any person' to have provided ... technological support for, or goods or services to persons designated pursuant to that EO," the senators wrote.
Twitter, they added, is aware of the accounts held by Ayatollah Khamenei and Zarif, and of their links to the Iranian government, but "continues to provide internet-based communications services."
On June 24, 2019, Trump signed the executive order imposing sanctions on Iran’s Leader and top commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), saying the measure denies them “access to key financial resources and support." 
One week later, the US Treasury Department blacklisted Zarif — which it described as Iran’s “primary spokesperson around the world”.

"While the First Amendment protects the free speech rights of Americans ... the Ayatollah [Khamenei] enjoys zero protection from the United States Bill of Rights," the senators wrote. "The Ayatollah and any American companies providing him assistance are entirely subject to US sanctions laws."
They claimed that an exception for internet-based communications services created in 2014 by the administration of then US president Barack Obama would not apply when the person receiving the service has been designated to a special list kept by the Treasury, as is the case for Ayatollah Khamenei and Zarif.
The letter was also shared with Trump, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Attorney General William Barr and David Anderson, the attorney for the Northern District of California, where Twitter's headquarters are located.
After Trump took office in 2017, Washington ramped up its efforts to target the Islamic Republic.
The so-called “maximum pressure” campaign has seen the US leaving a multi-party nuclear agreement with Iran in May 2018 and reinstating the nuclear-related sanctions that the deal had lifted.Save
As part of the campaign, the US State Department has called on social media companies to block the accounts of Iranian government leaders.
In July 2019, Twitter suspended the accounts of several Iranian state media outlets.
Back in 2018, the American microblogging and social networking service had said it would not remove accounts of the world leaders.
”Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate,” Twitter had written in a blog post.
“It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions.”
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