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American host cuts off Iranian press agency ISNA

Reporters Without Borders said it suspected a political motive after US web host The Planet terminated its contract with the Iranian Student's News Agency (ISNA) on 14 January 2005.

The worldwide press freedom organisation has written to the US company seeking an explanation for its unilateral decision.

Letter by Planet to ISNA

It pointed out that a host cannot interrupt its client's service unless it has evidently broken a clause in the contract or if the contract has expired. Even in the event of a contractual dispute, a technical provider must give reasons for its decision. It does not have the competence to decide whether or not an online publication should be banned. This is the province of a judge, it said in the letter.

Iranian Internet-users already suffer relentless government censorship, so it is all the more important for American host companies to show their respect for free expression, it added.

The ISNA is an official press agency that nevertheless provides an important source of information, particularly for foreign organisations and media, on the arrests of journalists and political dissidents in Iran, it said. The agency regularly relays information from human rights organisations, even though it does not give its sources.

In the email notifying ISNA that it was terminating the contract, The Planet said its decision was non negotiable and gave the agency 48 hours to find a new provider. Contacted by phone by Reporters Without Borders, The Planet refused to comment.

The deputy technical director of ISNA described the host's action as a "violation of international law". The agency confirmed that it had changed its host following the notification from The Planet.

... Payvand News - 1/26/05 ... --

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