Iran releases activist who opposed Internet control bill

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iranian authorities have released on bail an activist who was jailed for criticizing proposed legislation to further police Iran’s already-censored Internet, his family said.

Hossein Ronaghi, a blogger and free-speech activist, disappeared on Feb. 23rd after criticizing the “Users Protection Bill,” a vaguely worded text that would block additional foreign content including some social media. It has been criticized by many Iranians.

Ronaghi’s brother, Hassan, who also is an activist, tweeted of the release late Wednesday. His brother had gone on hunger strike to protest his detention.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called social media in Iran “unbridled,” and Ronaghi says he wants it further controlled. The language in the bill has yet to be finalized, but it could lead to the disruption of international internet services and websites such as Instagram that have not yet been blocked.

The Iranian government has long blocked access to many websites and social media platforms, from YouTube and Facebook to Twitter and Telegram. Many Iranians access social media through VPNs and proxies. Instagram and WhatsApp remain unblocked.