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      Iran Arrests 16 for Helping 'Anti-Government Websites'

      Iran's Revolutionary Guard arrests 16 accused of providing material to “anti-government websites”.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 12/5/2013, 4:16 AM

      A courtroom at the revolutionary court in Tehran
      A courtroom at the revolutionary court in Tehran
      AFP photo

      Iran's Revolutionary Guard has arrested 16 activists accused of providing material to “anti-government websites”, state media said Wednesday, according to The Associated Press (AP).

      The official IRNA news agency quoted Ahmad Ghorbani, a local prosecutor in Kerman in southeast Iran, as saying the 16 are facing charges of cooperating with Western and anti-Iran news networks.

      Ghorbani did not say when the 16 were detained but said confessions obtained during interrogations prove the charges against the defendants.

      The 16 were not identified by name, but were accused of providing materials to websites seeking to topple Iran's Islamic ruling system, according to AP.

      IRNA's report said some of the defendants had attended training sessions in Turkey and Malaysia.

      Arrests and censorship of media outlets deemed to be too critical of the regime are nothing out of the ordinary in Iran.

      In February, a dozen journalists were arrested and jailed in Iran on suspicion of cooperating with Persian-language foreign media outlets.

      The arrested reporters were accused of having ties to “anti-revolutionary” media, a term which usually means cooperation with international media outlets.

      A month earlier, Iranian authorities hauled in nearly a dozen journalists in a similar crackdown, accusing them of cooperation with foreign news outlets as well.

      All publications in Iran must be approved by the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance to ensure they comply with the Islamic republic's strict code of morality.

      Tehran also blocks access to numerous websites, including Facebook and Twitter, to stop Iranians from browsing content it considers immoral, or as undermining the regime.

      However, the country’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, has expressed openness to revamp the rules regarding the country’s long-time policy of censorship.

      In a speech he delivered a month before being sworn in, Rouhani said that a strong government does not “limit the lives of the people.”

      In October, Iran’s Culture Minister Ali Janati said that his department will review a ban imposed on certain books which censors have barred from publication.