(Updates with attorney general denying Zuckerberg court summon)
DUBAI May 27 The attorney general of the
Iranian province of Fars on Wednesday denied a report that a
local court had summoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
over privacy violations, despite complaints having been filed by
Iranian state news agency ISNA reported on Tuesday that a
conservative court had opened a case against instant messaging
services WhatsApp and Instagram while also summoning Zuckerberg
over the complaints.
"Reports regarding the summoning of Zuckerberg, the CEO of
Facebook, by a court in Fars are completely false," the attorney
general, Ali Alghasi-Mehr, said according to official state
"But there are complaints by specific people over Facebook
regarding the printing of certain videos and films," he added.
ISNA on Tuesday quoted Ruhollah Momen-Nasab, an Iranian
internet official, as saying that the court in southern Fars
province had 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," ISNA
quoted Momen-Nasab as saying, referring to Zuckerberg's Jewish
Most recently a Facebook campaign called "My Stealthy
Freedom" where women in Iran can upload pictures of themselves
without the mandatory hijab has garnered significant attention,
with over 380,000 likes. A website has been created in response
to the first entitled "Iranian Women's Real Freedom."
An escalating struggle is underway between moderate
President Hassan Rouhani's drive to increase Internet freedoms
and demands by the conservative judiciary for tighter controls.
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