Social Media

Iranian guards stop three ‘friendly matches’ on social media

Iranian guards stop three 'friendly matches' on social media

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have arrested administrators of social media news channels considered regime insiders for spreading false news and “stirring public opinion”.

At least three administrators of separate channels on the social media app Telegram have been arrested by the IRGC’s internal security service, the official Telegram channel of the Guard said on Thursday.

The announcement said that these Telegram channels, which reported on Iranian internal politics and rumours, “published classified information and documents” and spread “false and selective news to sow discord among senior officials.”

In recent years, the Revolutionary Guards have created several social media accounts, including on Telegram, to broadcast their version of events. This vast network is part of what is now called the IRGC’s “cyber army”.

The announcement by the IRGC Intelligence Organization did not reveal the names of those detained, but reports circulating on social media in Iran indicate that one person is Ali Gholhaki, a journalist who supports establishment hardliners. politics and often publishes first-hand information on impending decisions or developments.

An expert Iran International spoke to was surprised that Gholhaki was involved in leaking classified information. His track record shows that he is a well-informed insider whose political revelations often turn out to be correct after a few days.

One example was during the June 2021 presidential election, when he was the first to report that the constitutional watchdog, the Guardian Council, was about to disqualify a few key candidates.

Gholhaki and the three Telegram channels mentioned are all close to the Revolutionary Guards and it is unclear why they were arrested and what might be behind the move.

The IRGC announcement does not mention any examples of the information leaked by the three channels.

At this point, speculation among observers generally revolves around possible factional infighting.

One theory involves the Speaker of Parliament, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who was discredited when similar Telegram channels were implicated in leaking this information. his family went luxury shopping in Turkey in April amid an economic crisis and growing poverty.

Ghalibaf at the time threatened legal action against those who had “defamed” him, but later other events pushed the scandal into relative obscurity.

Another theory concerns a clash reported at a recent meeting of the Opportunity Council, another constitutional body, where supposedly tough politician Saeed Jalili and former speaker of parliament, moderate-conservative Ali Larijani, argued over Iran’s nuclear policy. This same type of Telegram channels disclosed that the two had a fierce argument when Jalili proposed to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Yet another theory is that IRGC intelligence wants to show it is responsible and omnipotent after repeated fatal incidents among its personnel during recent lows.

Two commanders of the extraterritorial Quds (Quds) Force of the Guard died in May, one was shot several times in broad daylight outside his home in Tehran and another fell from the roof or balcony of his house. Immediate suspicion fell on Israel, which was apparently behind a series of spectacular attacks on Iranian nuclear and military sites, as well as key individuals.

After the deaths of the Quds officers, at least two weapons experts working for the IRGC also mysteriously died.

These kinds of events since July 2020 have dealt a serious blow to the image of IRGC Intelligence, as Iranians on social media mock its failure to protect its own people, while it claims to intimidate its enemies.