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8 Feb, 2020 02:23

‘Free speech only for Americans!’ US senators threaten Twitter with sanctions unless it censors Iranian leadership

‘Free speech only for Americans!’ US senators threaten Twitter with sanctions unless it censors Iranian leadership

US senators have demanded that Twitter ban the accounts of two top Iranian officials, or face the wrath of US sanctions, in a thinly veiled threat to naïve free speech-believers who might fall out of favor with Washington next.

Despite an Obama-era provision exempting certain internet platforms – including social media – from a raft of sanctions imposed on Iran, the four Republican lawmakers insisted in a joint letter that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif enjoyed no such protection, demanding that Twitter ban them immediately.

“Twitter is aware of these accounts and their links to the Iranian regime,” yet “continues to provide [them] Internet-based communications services,” the senators said, calling it a “sanctionable offense.”

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The senators argued that by allowing Iranian officials to share their country’s position with the rest of the world, Twitter was providing a “service” in violation of an executive order signed by President Trump last June prohibiting Americans from any exchange with Tehran.

The letter was signed by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), all of whom have taken a hard line on the Islamic Republic. Twitter has yet to respond to the blatant demand of selective censorship.

The threat follows a concerted campaign across several social media platforms last month to purge dozens of accounts affiliated with sanctioned individuals and entities – including Syrian, Iranian and Venezuelan officials, as well as average citizens in some cases – hardly without any pressure from Washington.

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