700 Iranian Activists Receive Threatening Text Messages

 Friday, July 1, 2016 3:21:56 PM

On the evening of June 30, 2016 more than 700 Iranian journalists, political activists, social activists, student activists, women and children rights activists, and families of political prisoners received text messages on their cell phones that warned them about their "connection with elements outside Iran."

According to Al-Arabiya, the text reads as such, "Any kind of connection and cooperation with the subversive elements outside the country [Iran] via email, secure portals and other means of communication is a criminal act that triggers judicial prosecution. It is mandatory that you sever your connections. This SMS must be regarded as the last security warning."

Mohammad-Ali Vakili, MP from Tehran and owner of Ebtekar newspaper, called this act a "security alarm." Vakili said that "that in our country an individual can encroach on the privacy of a great number of people and create fear among them is a security alarm. As such, this problem ought to be seriously and legally tackled so that the source of the message is revealed, to see that those who sent it had any judicial directive or not? And was it a personal or a security issue? If it was personal, then the criminal must be apprehended. If it was sent by security authorities then the reasons must be revealed."

It is not the first time that Iranian activists collectively receive threatening messages via any kind of media. It has been reported that during the 2009 protests many Iranian activists and journalists were threatened through phone calls and text messages. Most recently, Radio Farda reported that a number of Iranian activists and journalists based inside and outside the country had told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that they had been threatened in anonymous e-mails.

According to Majzooban Noor, the e-mails, which had been sent since February 13, warned activists of their "illegal activities" and said that they would be dealt with according to Iranian Islamic laws. The e-mails claimed that a list had been created including names and e-mail addresses of individuals accused of working for the goals of "foreigners" and "seditionists."