Iran’s cyber army on the offensive
The Islamic Republic's online saboteurs are rushing to counter coverage of new protests
28 Feb 11
Index on Censorship interviews online activist Saeed Valadbaygi, who has come under attack from the Islamic Republic


A week ago today, Iranians took to the streets once again, unafraid of arrest, tear gas, batons, and bullets.  Their online counterparts work in tandem, airing minute to minute observations as they receive them, and 20 February was no exception. At about 4pm London time, footage starts coming through — that’s the way it’s been since the people’s protests began in June 2009 — as they return home to upload and send what they’ve managed to film. Only this time, at exactly the expected hour, the websites of the most valued sources of information were hacked. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) battled on, using the most effective method of preventing the outside world from gaining any glimpse of what occurred.

I witnessed this live on
The accompanying song and its message could send a chill down your spine, or you could chuckle at the ironically American choice of the Michael Jacksonesque voice singing resolutions in a style more evocative of pre-superbowl renditions of the Star Spangled Banner.

That Street Journalist was targeted is no surprise. The site is an all round source of reliable news from Iran in English and was the first to provide live blogging at Ashura in 2009, when it received some 15 million hits. I spoke to Street Journalist’s Editor-in-Chief, Saeed Valadbaygi:

“There have been various attacks against the site over the last 12 months. But their stance has changed; now, even if it says it’s the work of a Saudi group, it’s the Cyber Army. Iran’s Cyber Army attacked VOA [Voice of America satellite channel] and BBC Persian on Sunday but they diffuse their efforts, seeming not to recognise us with the same standing, to not give Street Journalist the kudos. But there were a wave of attacks against Iranian media on that same day.