Tehran’s frightening reach

From Andrew Sullivan’s blog:

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.

This is an epoch in the history of wireless communication. Previously, outside of probably rare efforts to entrap,  governments were limited to merely ceasing the transfer of undesirable information through filters or the complete severance of cellular communication.  Now it is possible to move from being reactive to proactive, as Tehran has demonstrated, by using social networking websites to accumulate information about “troublemakers” among the diaspora and silence them by threatening the safety of their friends and loved ones.  Rather than be jeopardized by the free flow of information, the IRI has begun to use it to spread their terror.  When it comes to suppressing criticism of its brutality the IRI will not accept any limitation – not even borders or a physical disconnect.

An important question is how the West will react to this?  If their citizens are being threatened, even indirectly, do they not have an obligation to speak against Tehran on their behalf?  The crimes of the IRI cannot be ignored when they reach into Washington, Ottawa, and London’s own backyard.  Additionally, waiting much longer to champion the rights of the Iranian people, as talks on Iran’s nuclear program stall,  may tarnish any later efforts, even if they are well-intentioned, as insincere.

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