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U.S. Lifts Ban On Sale Of Communications Gear To Iranians

A shopkeeper adjusts mobile-phone handsets at a shopping center in Tehran. (file photo)
WASHINGTON -- The United States has lifted a ban on sales of communications equipment to Iranians and opened access to Internet services and social media.

The move by the U.S. Treasury was made in consultation with the State Department in a bid to help Iranians circumvent government controls on the free flow of information, according to statements from both executive departments.

The State Department said the action will allow Iranians to skirt Tehran's "attempts to silence its people by cutting off their communication with each other and the rest of the world" and help avoid "reprisals by their government."

It opens up exports of "certain services, software, and hardware incident to personal communications," according to the State Department.

The move is aimed at "empowe[ing] the Iranian people as their government intensifies its efforts to stifle their access to information," statements from both departments said.

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The United States also "imposed visa restrictions on nearly 60 other officials of the government of Iran and other individuals" that Washington says have been involved in human rights abuses related to political repression in Iran, according to a Treasury Department statement.

Recent signs have emerged of increased restrictions on an already tightly managed media environment in Iran ahead of a presidential election on June 14.

With additional reporting by AFP
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