Nov 21, 2019

Iran cuts internet during, and after, protests

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

As protests over gas prices erupted last weekend, Iranian officials cut the nation's access to the internet. On Wednesday, according to state media, the government declared victory over the protests. Yet the internet has only begun to trickle back online.

Why it matters: Keeping the internet off prevented global reporting of police abuses and prevents domestic coordination between protestors, Adrian Shahbaz of the human rights group Freedom House told Axios.

  • Freedom House recently listed the use of internet shutdowns to quell government opposition as a key threat to internet freedom in its Freedom on the Net report.

While reporting is spotty, largely because of the internet shutdown, Shahbaz said he has spoken with Iranians, who confirmed that the nation shut down its global internet connections, but left some access to national, internal sites.

As of Thursday morning on the U.S. East Coast, internet connectivity in Iran was only at 10% of its typical levels, according to connectivity monitor NetBlocks. That's up from 5% during the height of the protests.

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In mass arrests, Iran detains eight accused of CIA ties

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Hossein Salami at a pro-government demonstration on Nov. 25, 2019 in Tehran, Iran. Photo: Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iran says it has arrested over 500 people in the aftermath of protests over gas prices, AFP reports, and the regime claimed on late Wednesday that eight of those detained are linked to the CIA.

The big picture: Iran cut Internet access for the vast majority of the country earlier this month after protests erupted on Nov. 15. Human rights group Freedom House told Axios' Joe Uchill that the blackout prevented global reporting on Iranian police abuses and stifled coordination between protestors.

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Podcast: Iran's internet blackout

The Iranian government responded to gas price protests by shutting down the country's internet for a week. Dan digs in with Norman Roule, a 34-year CIA veteran who previously oversaw U.S. national intelligence policy and activities related to Iran.

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106 killed in Iran protests, human rights group says

Iranians gather around a charred police station while they protest the increase in oil prices in Isfahan, Iran. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

At least 106 people have been killed in Iran since protests over increased oil prices began last week, according to human rights group Amnesty International, which says the true death toll could be far higher.

The big picture: Iran was much quicker to use violent measures this time than during previous protests. The Iranian government also shut down the internet to prevent social media from further mobilizing protesters, per CNN.

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