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Iraq Lifts Telegram App Block

The Iraqi government on Sunday ended its one-week block of the Telegram app due to “national security concerns” after the move drew criticism from pro-Iranian factions.

AFP journalists in Baghdad reported that the app could be accessed again Sunday without the need for a virtual private network (VPN).

The Iraqi Ministry of Communications late Saturday (12/8) announced “the lifting of the freeze on Telegram from Sunday.”

Telegram is hugely popular in Iraq and in particular is used as a propaganda platform for groups associated with armed factions and pro-Iran political parties.

A coalition of Iran-linked Islamic-Shia parties dominates Iraq’s parliament and supports Shiite Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani.

When it suspended the app, the government said it took the step because Telegram “did not respond” to repeated requests to address the problem of “data leakage from state institutions and individuals, which is a threat to national security and social peace.”

In its new statement, the ministry said the app’s administrators had responded to “requests by the authorities to detect persons leaking citizen data, and expressed their willingness to communicate with the relevant authorities.”

Responding to criticism on an Iraqi Telegram channel that the suspension was a curtailment of free speech, the ministry said it was “not against freedom of opinion.” However, it calls on the application manager to “respect the rule of law, maintain the security and data of the application’s users.”

After decades of conflict, Iraq is now relatively stable. But rights groups still regularly criticize the authorities for the degree of freedom of expression.

In the 2023 Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders, Iraq is ranked 167th out of 180 countries.

Previously Telegram was also blocked in several other countries. 

Source : VOA News