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Iran Reportedly Lifts Restrictions On Messaging App Telegram

A photo released by the cuber control arm of Iran's IRGC. Undated
A photo released by the cuber control arm of Iran's IRGC. Undated

Iran on Saturday lifted restrictions on the messaging app Telegram, the state news agency IRNA said, after blocking the popular service as security forces sought to contain the most widespread public protests in the country since 2009.

"An informed source announced that the filtering of the Telegram messenger has been ended and it is being used by users," IRNA reported.

At least 22 people have died and more than 3,000 people have been arrested in the anti-government protests that began in late December.

As the protests ebbed, the government last week lifted restrictions imposed on Instagram, one social media tool used to mobilize protesters.

The AP news agency said it had spoken with residents in several cities, including Shiraz, Isfahan, Bandar Abbas, Rasht, and Oroumieh, all of whom confirmed that they had access to the app.

Earlier this month, Iran shut down Telegram and the picture-sharing app Instagram, claiming protesters were using them to spread unrest.

At least 22 people were killed and more than 3,000 people arrested in the antigovernment protests that began in late December, sparked at first over rising consumer prices.

Many Iranians access Telegram using virtual private networks and other tools to bypass government filtering of the Internet, residents said.

But officials said hundreds of companies using the app for their marketing and sales had been hard-hit by the social media restrictions, and President Hassan Rouhani was quoted as saying about 100,000 people had lost their jobs.

Iran continues to impose restrictions on the Internet and social media, with Facebook and Twitter still blocked.

All independent and opposition Persian language websites reporting on events or opinions, as well as hundreds of thousands of other websites deemed socially unacceptable have been blocked in Iran for the last 15 years.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters