In a press conference on Tuesday Iran’s Judiciary spokesman Gholam-Hossein Esmaeili claimed that individuals who have sent videos of the recent protests to "foreign and hostile networks" have been identified and will be punished.
Iran has completely shut down most internet services since Saturday evening to prevent communication among protesters and to control the dissemination of news and videos of the protests which in many places turned extremely violent.
Some videos sent to the media outside Iran show security forces firing at demonstrators and protesters are seen chanting and clashing with security forces amid clouds of tear gas. Some photos posted before the internet blackout showed demonstrators burning pictures of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
In his press conference Esmaeili also said that the Judiciary will adopt a "punitive policy" against those who endanger citizen's safety and loot or destroy public property," Mizan Online, the official news website of the Judiciary reported. (Mizan) Some Iranian news websites have reported extensive looting of chain supermarkets and destruction of banks, gas stations and other public facilities in various Iranian cities and towns. (Asreiran) and (Asreiran)
However, reports received from citizen journalists reveal strong suspicions that government-backed vigilante groups reportedly torched banks and government offices giving the government a pretext to blame protestors for violence.
Esmaeili claimed there are individuals with affiliations to foreign powers, the monarchists, and the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) among the arrested protesters. He called on the public to separate their ranks from "rioters" and to report them to the security and intelligence bodies, the law enforcement, and the Judiciary.
The recent protests in various Iranian cities and towns began last Friday following the announcement of up to 300 percent increase in gasoline prices as well as the reintroduction of fuel rationing. Tens of protesters have reportedly been killed by security, military and paramilitary forces, hundredss have been wounded and more than a thousand have been arrested.