A number of channels on the Telegram messaging service attributed to top Iranian officials, including that of the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, have stopped activities on Wednesday morning in a move that may signal the imminent blocking of the messenger.
In its last post on Telegram, the Khamenei.ir channel said it will stop using the service to help break the “monopoly of non-Iranian messengers over Iran’s cyberspace.”
The channel, one of the biggest ones in Iran with over 1.3 million followers, said it will use Iranian messengers, including Soroush.
The post also said Iran’s state institutions are to stop using Telegram.
Mahmoud Vaezi, the chief of staff of President Hassan Rouhani, announced on Wednesday that members of the Cabinet have decided to leave Telegram and switch to domestic messaging services.
Some Iranian officials were quick to follow suit, including First Vice-President Es’haq Jahangiri, who shut down his channel on Wednesday morning.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry, however, announced that it will keep updating its Telegram followers while posting the latest updates in the Iranian messaging apps.
The fate of Telegram in Iran became a hot subject in political circles late last month, when the chairman of the Parliament’s National Security Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi said a decision has been made “at the highest levels” to permanently ban Telegram by April 20.
Boroujerdi cited “national security” concerns as the reason the messaging service will no longer be accessible.
However, shortly afterwards, President Rouhani said he opposes the filtering of Telegram and believes the government should instead work to end the monopoly of foreign services on the country’s cyberspace.
Boroujerdi later said his remarks were not correctly published, and he did not mean Telegram will be banned in Iran.
Soroush, one of the messaging apps promoted by state officials, is estimated to be used by over five million Iranians, a figure which lacks lustre when compared to Telegram’s 40 million users.