The Center for the Study of Organized Cyber Crimes, an extra-judicial branch of the Revolutionary Guards, arrested 12 individuals and summoned another 24 for interrogation as part of an operation called Project Spider, to “disrupt Western social media and the vulgar and obscene content it spreads,” an official statement said.
“The Revolutionary Guards’ detention of social media users for no reason other than use of Facebook shows the government’s hostility to fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression and freedom to access information,” said Robert Herman, vice president for regional programs, Freedom House. “President Hassan Rouhani should publicly demand that the Revolutionary Guards immediately release the detainees.”
Those detained were men in their mid-20s from various provinces in Iran and singled out, according to the statement, because their Facebook pages “promote a liberal and open-minded culture, weaken the sacred institution of the family, ridicule religious beliefs and values, promote immoral and unethical relationships, and spread private pictures of young women.”
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.