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Reports: Iranian Judiciary Bans Telegram Messaging App

Telegram has been used widely by ordinary Iranian citizens as well as politicians, companies, and state media outlets. (illustrative photo)

Iran's judiciary has banned the use of the Telegram messaging app, saying it has been used to organize attacks and street protests, according to state television and a news agency affiliated with the judiciary.

A branch of the Culture and Media Court in Tehran announced that all Internet providers in Iran must take steps to block Telegram's website and app as of April 30, the Mizanonline news agency said.

A court order said that Telegram has become a "safe [place] for committing different types of crimes," adding that there are "thousands of open cases" related to its use and that Telegram has not cooperated with judiciary officials, Mizanonline reported.

The order asserted that many actions threatening Iran's security, including antiestablishment protests in December and January and attacks on parliament and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's shrine in June 2017, were organized using Telegram.

State TV also suggested that the decision to bar Iranians from using Telegram was motivated by national security concerns.

"Considering various complaints against the Telegram social networking app by Iranian citizens, and based on the demand of security organizations for confronting the illegal activities of Telegram, the judiciary has banned its usage in Iran," a state TV report said.

The court order was also reported by the semiofficial Fars news agency.

It is likely to reinforce concerns about freedom of expression and other basic rights in Iran, where Telegram has been used widely by ordinary citizens as well as politicians, companies, and state media outlets.

The authorities temporarily shut down Telegram in January in an effort to contain antiestablishment protests across the country, but many Iraniains found ways to continue using it.

In recent weeks, officials have been encouraging Iranians to use domestic alternatives to Telegram.

Earlier this month, the Iranian authorities banned the use of foreign messaging apps by government bodies.

Russia is also seeking to prevent its citizens from using Telegram.

With reporting by Mizanonline, Reuters, and Fars