Instagram on Tuesday blocked the account of Iran’s spiritual leader, Ali Khamenei, and several Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) commanders, including Major General Mohammad Ali Jaafari, Major General Mohammad Bagheri and Major General Qassem Soleimani.
Instagram began deleting the account of Sepah News - the Revolutionary Guards mouthpiece - before news spread about the blocking of the accounts of the group’s leaders, in line with a decision taken by US President Donald Trump to put the IRGC on a terrorism list.
Washington announced on April 8 that it has placed the IRGC on its list of “foreign terrorist organizations.”
The Instagram laws prohibit activities that advocate violence, discrimination, hostility, hatred and pornography.
In remarks to AFP, an Instagram spokesperson said it was operating “under the constraints of US sanctions laws.”
“We work with appropriate government authorities to ensure we meet our legal obligations, including those relating to the recent designation of the IRGC,” the agency quoted the spokesperson as saying.
Few hours after blocking the accounts of IRGC leaders, Instagram also suspended Khamenei’s Instagram account in English. The Iranian Supreme Leader’s account had at least 21,400 followers before it was suspended. His main Farsi account on Instagram with 2.5 million followers is still online.
Also on Tuesday, Iran’s parliament officially approved a law that would put US troops in the Middle East on a terrorism list in a move similar to the Trump decision. The law includes states and entities that support the US decision.
US law already punishes US persons who deal with the IRGC with up to 20 years in prison because of the group’s designation under the US Specially Designated Global Terrorist list, a different US sanctions program.
The accounts of Khamenei and Soleimani are among the most followed among other Iranian officials.