Deputy Speaker of the Iranian Parliament Ali Motahari says the decision to ban popular messaging application Telegram in Iran was made based on a “state decree” issued by the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“State decree” is a term used for the orders issued by Khamenei that overrides all other laws and regulations about the matter in question.
Meanwhile, seven Iranian lawyers have filed a lawsuit against the judicial official who has ordered the filtering of Telegram. “He had exceeded his authority and deprived people from their individual rights mentioned in the constitution,” the lawyers wrote in their lawsuit.
Speaking in Tehran on Sunday May 6, Motahari further demanded explanations about making Telegram inaccessible for the public.
President Hassan Rouhani was the first high-ranking official who criticized the filtering of Telegram and indicated that the supreme leader has been behind it.
Following the Telegram ban, Rouhani became the target of heavy criticism by the people, especially because he had said in a public speech in December last year that he was not supporting restrictions on accessing social media and his minister of telecommunication would promise that his finger would never push the filtering button.
“If decision about limiting and blocking people’s communication has been made at the highest level of the state, the people as the real owners of the country, should be informed about it”, Rouhani wrote in an Instagram post on Friday May 4, indirectly demanding that Khamenei should take responsibility for the move.
In a speech on Sunday, deputy parliament speaker, Ali Motahari said that the president should be transparent about the situation and as the “implementer” of the constitution; he should have warned the judiciary about the filtering of Telegram.
Iran's Culture and Media Court ordered the ban on Telegram on April 30, asserting that Telegram had been used to organize actions threatening Iran's security, including anti-establishment protests in December and January, and attacks on the parliament and Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini's shrine last June.
In his Instagram post, President Rouhani described the court order as bogus and ordered from above and said, his administration had not blocked or filtered any social media website and the “arbitrary” order to block Telegram without due process was opposing the principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Almost half of the 80 million Iran’s population were using Telegram for various reasons, including accessing uncensored news. Exactly for the same reason, the conservatives were pressuring the government for a long time to filter Telegram.