January 27, 2005 (HOSTSEARCH.COM) Web host, The Planet, recently terminated the Iranian Student New Agency website under what looks to be pressure from the U.S. government.
Reporters Sans Frontiers, an international group that fights for freedom of the press and journalists rights yesterday questioned the decision by The Planet stating that closing the web site was illegal given there had been no violation of the student groups contract but The Planet refused to comment.
This raises serious questions about the Bush regimes attitude towards freedom of the press after severely restricting press access in Iraq, a refusal by the Pentagon to even try to count or guess at civilian casualties in the country for fear of negative public reaction and now this.
The government pressuring The Planet to close the site is certainly at odds with the long held tradition of freedom of the press in the United States and even recent internet legislation.
California Congressman Christopher Cox has sponsored legislation that would create a Global Internet Freedom Office.
He says the office would fund private and public organizations that help web users get through Chinas firewall. "People everywhere want to be able to use the internet for political communication, for getting news and information," says Mr Cox.
"Yet it is precisely that act that too often is gonna land them in prison for an indefinite period.
"Sometimes they're subjected to worse, to torture. We simply need to make sure the pipelines of the internet aren't cut off by repressive governments."
What does this mixed message say to the world? Freedom of access to the internet is very important unless were planning to bomb you.
With The Planet based in Dallas Texas, George Bushs home state, it doesnt take much imagination to see where the political pressure might have come from.
Its truly unfortunate if this is the case for The Planet if they were unwillingly coerced into this action but if that is so then they should speak up and set the record straight rather than suffer the role of the bad guy.
At ww.journalism.co.uk prominent Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan expressed his views on the need for internet access in Iran.
"They (blogs) are much more self-expressive and tolerant than their parents and maybe that's why they've embraced blogs so eagerly," he told dotJournalism.
"Free speech can change many realities in Iran and it is even capable of changing the attitudes of the regime," said Mr Derakhshan.
"Regimes would behave differently if their people knew more."
And perhaps that is exactly the thinking behind the U.S. governments pressure on The Planet.