By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
The website of Iran's state television news channel says hackers are responsible for the results of its recent poll, in which the majority of respondents said they were in favor of the country halting its uranium-enrichment.
A screen shot of the poll in question on July 3 (see high resolution)
Letters reported earlier this week, the poll on Irininew.ir found
that more than 60 percent of respondents were in favor of Iran stopping its
uranium-enrichment program in return for the gradual lifting of international
The government has long claimed that its sensitive nuclear program has widespread support among the country's population.
The result has also attracted particular attention in that the poll was conducted by a government site that is thought to be visited mainly by government supporters and those who trust state media.
In a July 4 statement, the website said it took down the poll after it came under attack by hackers from "countries outside of Iran, including England," who allegedly manipulated the results. The statement claimed that in reality, just 24 percent of respondents had voted in favor of halting uranium-enrichment in return of the removal of sanctions, while 38 percent favored retaliatory measures against the West, such as closing the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil shipment route.
The statement also notes that several sites, including the BBC's Persian site, quickly posted screen grabs of the poll and accuses them of making false claims.
Responding to the apparent suggestion that it was behind the alleged hacking of the poll, the BBC said in a statement that such charges are "both ludicrous and completely false, and the BBC Persian Service stands by its reporting."
Beyond its claim of hacking, the website has also sought to discredit the poll's result by alleging that only 2000 people participated.
"It's clear how much credibility a poll has in which only 2000 people participated: It is by no means a reflection of the views of the whole society or even of a major part of the revolutionary population," it said in a comment posted on its site.
Aside from the results, offering the stoppage of uranium enrichment as an option in the poll was a surprise in itself. In recent years Iranian officials have promoted the slogan "Nuclear energy is our alienable right" at state events and ceremonies.
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