Human Rights Watch: “Iranian government itself is in cyber warfare”

25 Mar 2010

Iran’s state-owned media, judiciary, and security forces have opened a coordinated attack on human rights groups in recent weeks under the guise of defending the nation against “cyber warfare”, Human Rights Watch said yesterday.
The authorities have arbitrarily arrested human rights defenders, shut down websites run by human rights groups, and opened media campaigns accusing civil society groups of collaborating with foreign intelligence agencies and terrorist groups. “Yet again, the government has drawn upon its tired playbook of foreign espionage and conspiracy theories to silence the few remaining critical voices in the country,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

On March 13, 2010, a week before the Iranian New Year, Tehran’s Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office announced that security forces had arrested 30 people, contending they were involved with a CIA-funded project to destabilize the government with “cyber warfare.”
The prosecutor’s office contends that a network of opposition groups implemented the project, code named “Iran Proxy,” under the cover of local human rights organizations, including the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, Shirin Ebadi’s Center for Defense of Human Rights, and Human Rights Activists in Iran. The prosecutor’s office has not revealed who was arrested or when.
During the past few weeks, all three groups issued statements denying any involvement with the alleged “Iran Proxy” project, confirmed their financial independence from foreign governments, and accused Tehran of conducting a dishonest and dangerous smear campaign. The Center for Defense of Human Rights, which was forced to close its doors in December 2008 but still maintains its website, called the attacks nothing more than a “frame job against human rights activists and civil society.”
In an interview conducted by Rooz Online, a Persian-language website, on March 21, Ahmad Batebi, the spokesperson for Human Rights Activists in Iran and a former student activist who currently lives in the United States, dismissed Tehran’s charges that his organization has cooperated with foreign governments. He said that “to date, the HRA has received no [monetary] support from any organization or government.”

source: Human Rights Watch

Tehran Review
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