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Iranian cyber police arrest Instagram admin on blasphemy charges

IRAN’S cyber police have detained the administrator of an Instagram account on charges of “blasphemy and disturbing public opinion” in the country’s south-east.

The arrest occurred earlier this week in Sistan and Baluchestan province, where major anti-government protests have broken out after the closure of the border crossing into Pakistan – a key route for fuel traders.

“This person opened Instagram accounts and posted insulting content in cyberspace with the motive to disturb public opinion and commit blasphemy, as well as encourage divisions between Shi’ites and Sunnis,“ said cyber police chief Hassan Kikha.

Iran’s authorities, which closely monitor online activity, had shut down the internet during a violent crackdown on protests in the province, as they did nationwide during anti-government demonstrations in 2019.

A law passed last month has handed new powers to Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace, enabling judicial and government agencies to monitor social media accounts and apps with more than 5,000 members or viewers.

Under the new legislation, account owners must remove false information, news or other content as soon as they are informed of it, then post an explanation and report to the authorities.

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