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DUBAI May 27 A conservative Iranian court
opened a case against instant messaging services WhatsApp and
Instagram while also summoning Facebook CEO Mark
Zuckerberg over complaints of privacy violation, state news
agency ISNA reported on Tuesday.
The case underscores the growing struggle between moderate
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani's drive to increase Internet
freedoms and demands by the conservative judiciary for tighter
The Iranian court in the southern province of Fars opened
the cases against the social networks after citizens complained
of breaches of privacy.
"According to the court's ruling, the Zionist director of
the company of Facebook, or his official attorney must appear in
court to defend himself and pay for possible losses," said
Ruhollah Momen-Nasab, an Iranian internet official, according to
state news agency ISNA, referring to Zuckerberg's Jewish
Zuckerberg, whose company owns WhatsApp and Instagram, is
unlikely to heed the summons.
Iran is still under international sanctions over its
disputed nuclear activities and it is difficult for U.S.
citizens to secure travel visas, even if they want to visit.
Internet use is high in Iran, partly because many young
Iranians turn to it to bypass an official ban on Western
cultural products, and Tehran occasionally filters popular
websites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Rouhani, in remarks that challenge hardliners who have
stepped up measures to censor the Web, said earlier this month
that Iran should embrace the Internet rather than see it as a
A Rouhani administration official said Iran would loosen
Internet censorship by introducing "smart filtering", which only
keeps out sites the Islamic government considers immoral.
(Reporting by Michelle Moghtader; editing by Sami Aboudi and