Iran cuts cell phone service and blocks Web sites after Ahmadinejad’s victory

By Calvin Palmer

The main mobile telephone network in Iran was cut in the capital city Tehran today and popular Web sites such as Facebook and YouTube blocked after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a landslide re-election victory.

Supporters of Ahmadinejad’s moderate rival Mir Hossein Mousavi took to the streets amid claims that the election result had been rigged.

The communication cuts came after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a landslide re-election victory, sparking rioting in the streets by opposition supporters who claimed the result had been rigged.

The mobile phone network stopped working at 10:00 p.m. local time just before Ahmadinejad went on television to declare the election a “great victory” and as riot police clashed with protestors in the streets of Tehran.

Several Iran-based users logging on via different Internet service providers said they were unable to access Facebook and YouTube — the two Web sites used by young supporters of Mousavi, who today complained about “vote rigging” in the election.

Pictures and videos of the protests in Tehran appeared on both Web sites shortly after they began on the city’s streets.

Iranian authorities banned Facebook on May 23 reportedly to prevent Mousavi supporters from using it for his presidential campaign prior to yesterday’s poll.

Access was restored after a few days.

About 60 percent of Iran’s 70-million population is under 30 years old and the country, which applies strict monitoring of cyber material, has some 20 million web users.

[Based on a report by AFP.]

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