Totalitarians Catching Up to the Internet

Via the WSJ:

His first impulse was to dismiss the ominous email as a prank, says a young Iranian-American named Koosha. It warned the 29-year-old engineering student that his relatives in Tehran would be harmed if he didn't stop criticizing Iran on Facebook.

Two days later, his mom called. Security agents had arrested his father in his home in Tehran and threatened him by saying his son could no longer safely return to Iran.

"When they arrested my father, I realized the email was no joke," said Koosha, who asked that his full name not be used....

In recent months, Iran has been conducting a campaign of harassing and intimidating members of its diaspora world-wide -- not just prominent dissidents -- who criticize the regime, according to former Iranian lawmakers and former members of Iran's elite security force, the Revolutionary Guard, with knowledge of the program.

Part of the effort involves tracking the Facebook, Twitter and YouTube activity of Iranians around the world, and identifying them at opposition protests abroad, these people say.

Interviews with roughly 90 ordinary Iranians abroad -- college students, housewives, doctors, lawyers, businesspeople -- in New York, London, Dubai, Sweden, Los Angeles and other places indicate that people who criticize Iran's regime online or in public demonstrations are facing threats intended to silence them.

Although it wasn't possible to independently verify their claims, interviewees provided consistently similar descriptions of harassment techniques world-wide. Most asked that their full names not be published.

  • Doug

    That's right, appeasement and saying nothing bad about Iran is the way to go. They'll just stop their meanness and become good neighbors.

  • Michael

    As an American living among Iranians during the 70s, the country was on it's way to become like Turkey is today. Carter was weak, and while Reagan was busy with the USSR, had he been more aggressive in the middle east, there wouldn't be the problems their that exist today.

    One of our biggest mistakes was placating Saudi Arabia. By giving them a favored status, it gave Iran and Iraq extremists the leverage to take over those countries.

  • Methinks

    Michael, I think once Reagan became president it was too late. Carter should have sent troops to support the Shah, a US ally. Of course, Carter thought the Shah was mean and sent nothing. Yes, the Shah violated human rights, but on a much smaller scale than the whacked out mullahs ever would and his regime could have been brought around eventually. These nutjobs can't be reasoned with. Ever.

    BTW, flag@whitehouse.gov was the first of such surveillance in the United States. get used to it. This country is moving in the same direction, as is Britain. I'm sure Americans think they have nothing to worry about because we don't have Gulags yet. But, by the time we do, it'll be too late.

  • Linda Morgan

    This is the very worst, even if the least surprising, thing I've read today.

    You have to wonder what the friends and family of "Freedom Messenger" may be facing for the posting of this cocky bit of brilliance on YouTube, about the plans for December 7:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kveh_aBv2c&feature=player_embedded

    God bless all the brave souls who put it all -- everything -- on the line just to show those black-hearted tyrants what Khamenei is made to mouth in the video: Their time is coming to an end.