Karoubi's Website Hosted In U.S. Shut Down

Sanctions imposed by the US against Iran due to Tehran's nuclear program clearly spell out restrictions on the trade of goods and services. This includes the sale of cheap hosting services, and this restriction has now led to the shuttering of Mehdi Karoubi's website. Karoubi was the leader of the opposition in 2009, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected, resulting in protests nationwide. Both Karoubi and Mirhossein Mousavi were placed under house arrest in February 2011, where they have remained ever since.

Karoubi's Website Hosted In U.S. Shut DownJust Host, the cheap hosting company that hosted Karoubi's website, had no choice but to pull the plug on the site. Sanctions put in place by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) list the country-code TLDs covered as .ir, .sy, .kp, and .cu (Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Cuba).

A Filter Within A Filter

Not only has the U.S. site been shut down, but the site cannot be set up within Iran either. Due to site filtering by the Iranian government, hosting providers in Iran are very wary when it comes to offering the site some Internet space.

Further, Tehran is blocking citizens of Iran from seeing the site, full of statements anti-government sentiments along with photos and a brief biography of Karoubi. The Iranian government has a long history of blocking any content that is in opposition of the government, and getting rid of the U.S.-based hosting option means that the site won’t exist online at all.

There Is Hope

Sanctions imposed on Iran exist due to nuclear weapons, but many hope that President Hassan Rohani (elected this past June) can help to clear up the situation. If Rohani is successful, the sanctions could be lifted. At present, Tehran claims that its nuclear development is peaceful, but the West isn’t buying that claim.

Back in May, some sanctions were, indeed, lifted by the U.S. Treasury Department regarding the sale of certain services and technology used specifically for personal communications by a certain U.S. Further restrictions have not been lifted. Officials with the Treasury Department have not yet provided a concrete reason why Karoubi site was shut down.

Karoubi's Website Hosted In U.S. Shut Down: A Reason

Just Host's parent company, Endurance International's spokeswoman, Deanne Dunn, in an email to Reuters, stated that the reason the site was shut down is simply that the purpose of Karoubi's website was not personal communications (as current laws dictacte), and therefore had to be terminated. This seems simple enough, tight? Well, there may be a way for the site to be up and running once again, if laws are specifically followed.

The .ir domain is licensed by Iran's Institute for ‘Research in Fundamental Sciences’, part of the ‘Ministry of Science, Research and Technology’. If you want to run an .ir website, you have to import hosting services from Iran, going against the sanction. However, a site owner can apply for a license directly from OFAC, something Ziya has not done. This would allow the site to continue, technically.

Should the U.S. government allow the site to run? Shouldn't there be a website for those who oppose the current government in Iran, allowing them to speak freely? Why do you think that the site was shut down? Let us know what your thoughts are about this topic in the comments below.

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