Iran’s government continues to suppress social media and curtail press freedom, according to a new United Nations report.

Within the last three years, the report says, the Iranian government has:

  • Closed access to 7 million web addresses, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the websites of human rights and political opposition groups.
  • Introduced regulations that would increase surveillance capabilities and require social media and messaging platforms to either move their servers to Iran or be blocked.
  • Shut down social media sites and blocked location-sharing platforms.

Some employees of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Persian Service were arbitrarily arrested, detained and threatened, according to the report from the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.

Close-up of Asma Jahangir (© Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star/Getty Images)
The late Asma Jahangir’s report details Iran’s attack on freedom of expression. (© Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star/Getty Images)

The U.N. Human Rights Council met March 12 to consider the report. It was prepared by Asma Jahangir, a prominent lawyer from Pakistan who served as special rapporteur until her death in February.

“The United States notes with concern the grave conditions facing the press in Iran,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a March 15 statement.

“The United States calls on the Iranian regime to respect its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that guarantee the freedom of expression, including for members of the press,” Nauert said.