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'We need your help': Iranian expats ask Trump to counter Tehran's cyber crackdown

A group of Iranian expatriates is asking the Trump administration to step in and help take action against the Tehran government's efforts to keep the country in the dark by shutting off the internet.

Iran's government initiated an almost complete shutdown of the country's internet on Saturday after widespread protests erupted in cities across the country due to government fuel rationing and cost spikes.

"Disturbing news coming from Iran indicates a worrisome number of protesters being killed away from the eyes of the world," explains the letter, from 31 Iranian expats living in the U.S., Canada, and Europe to President Donald Trump. On Tuesday, Amnesty International said that at least 106 people had been killed by the protests and government crackdown, but added that the real death toll may have been as high as 200.

"We need your help," the letter continues. "The Internet has been shut down to facilitate the Islamic Regime’s bloody repression, and we, the people of Iran, need this service to be restored. In the absence of an opposing voice, the Islamic Regime has total power over all means of communication and media and gives selective Internet access to its own supporters, falsely claiming that they are representative of the Iranian people."

Specifically, the signers ask the United States to "impose full sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s main source of propaganda and disinformation, its state radio and television called IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) and all its affiliated broadcasters on satellite channels." They argue that "officials of the regime that bans its own people from access to the Internet, do not deserve to enjoy access to the free world’s social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Gmail and other Google services" and that hampering the regime's propaganda efforts would come at "little to no cost" to American taxpayers.

"It is time for Iran to transition to freedom and democracy and, in this great path, we will never forget the help of our friends in America," the letter concludes. "A free and democratic Iran will bring an end to the export of the Khomeinist revolutionary ideology in the Middle East and can become a stabilizing factor in that volatile region, eliminating the necessity for military presence of the US which has cost trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives over the past decades."

The full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear President Trump,

The Islamic Republic has put the people of Iran and the Middle East in a catastrophic and dangerous situation. It’s well known that the Islamic Republic has a 40-year history of breaking international laws and norms. Bullying in the region and the ever-increasing repression of the people of Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iran are just few examples of this lawless and malign behavior. Additionally, the renewal of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, now even more aggressive than in the pre-JCPOA era, has jeopardized the security and stability of the Middle East and the world.

Today, the people of Iran have risen against this rogue regime. Four days in, the Islamic Republic has completely shut down people’s access to the Internet. Disturbing news coming from Iran indicates a worrisome number of protesters being killed away from the eyes of the world.

We need your help. The Internet has been shut down to facilitate the Islamic Regime’s bloody repression, and we, the people of Iran, need this service to be restored. In the absence of an opposing voice, the Islamic Regime has total power over all means of communication and media and gives selective Internet access to its own supporters, falsely claiming that they are representative of the Iranian people.

We plead to the US government to impose full sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s main source of propaganda and disinformation, its state radio and television called IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) and all its affiliated broadcasters on satellite channels. Furthermore, officials of the regime that bans its own people from access to the Internet, do not deserve to enjoy access to the free world’s social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Gmail and other Google services. The webpages of the regime officials and its organizations and ministries can also become inaccessible at least within USA with little to no cost to the US taxpayers. In short, shutting off the Internet to the corrupt regime of Iran, called the Criminal Cult by most Iranians, sends a strong signal that the free world sides with the people of Iran, not with their oppressors.

We firmly believe that in this critical period of history, the national interests of the Iranian and American people are aligned. It is time for Iran to transition to freedom and democracy and, in this great path, we will never forget the help of our friends in America. A free and democratic Iran will bring an end to the export of the Khomeinist revolutionary ideology in the Middle East and can become a stabilizing factor in that volatile region, eliminating the necessity for military presence of the US which has cost trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives over the past decades.

1- Shayan Arya

2- Ali Ashtari

3- Kamran Ayazi

4- Ahmad Batebi

5- Khosrow Beitollahi

6- Saber Bostani-Asl

7- Foruq Canaani

8- Farzad Farahani

9- Rouzbeh Farahanipour

10- Shervan Fashandi

11- Kaven Gelan (Mehr)

12- Babak Ghotbi

13- Saeed Hosseinpour

14- Mohammad Imani

15- Daniel Jafari

16- Mitra Jashni

17- Sheema Kalbasi

18- Erfan Kasraie

19- Janan Khorram

20- Ashkan Monfared

21- Shahin Nejad

22- Foad Pashai

23- Negin Ragh

24- Ali Saadat-Meli

25- Payman Sadegh

26- Amir Sadri

27- Maryam Shariatmadari

28- Haideh Tavackoli

29- Borzoumehr Tolouei

30- Ashkan Yazdchi

31- Nader Zahedi

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