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US takes steps to expand internet access to Iranians after government crackdown

“As courageous Iranians take to the streets to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, the United States is redoubling its support for the free flow of information to the Iranian people,” Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo said.

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The Treasury Department issued licenses on Friday to expand the range of internet services available to Iranians after Ebrahim Raisi’s government cut off access for most of Iran.

The Iranian regime’s crackdown on freedom of expression has come in the wake of nationwide anti-government protests after the killing of Mahsa Amini. Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman, fell into a coma shortly after being arrested by Iran’s morality police last week for “improper hijab.” She died on Friday, prompting protests on social media and on the streets.

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Internet monitoring outlets and foreign diplomats inside of Tehran have said that internet access has been restricted or blocked in many parts of the country.

“As courageous Iranians take to the streets to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, the United States is redoubling its support for the free flow of information to the Iranian people,” Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo said.

He said the US was helping Iranians be better equipped to counter the government’s efforts to censor them. “In the coming weeks, OFAC [Office of Foreign Assets Control] will continue issuing guidance to support the Administration’s commitment to promoting the free flow of information, which the Iranian regime has consistently denied to its people,” Adeyemo added.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the licenses would allow technology firms to provide more digital services to people in Iran, such as cloud computing services, to improve their online security and privacy. “It is clear that the Iranian government is afraid of its own people,” Blinken said.

On Thursday, the US announced sanctions against Iran’s morality police and six Iranians after the latest deadly protests and the killing of Amini. At least 31 civilians have been killed by Iranian security forces during the protests, according to Iran Human Rights (IHR).

Read more: Anti-regime chants in Iran as protests spread over death of woman blamed on police