Iran shuts down access to YouTube.com

Iran has blocked access to the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube.com, and a media rights group warned that Internet censorship in the Islamic state is on the rise, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said Internet users who tried to call up the YouTube site were met with the message, 'On the basis of the Islamic Republic of Iran laws, access to this Web site is not authorized,' which appears on numerous opposition and pornographic Web sites the government blocks.

It was not known how long the site had been on Iran's Web blacklist.

The Paris-based media rights group Reporters Without Borders said YouTube had been blocked for the past five days, the report said.

Iran's Shiite cleric-run government regularly blocks opposition Web sites, including blogs, and the number of sites that bring up the 'unauthorized' message has been increasing over the past year. Western news sites, however, are generally available, the report said.

Videos from the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq and other Iranian opposition groups have been posted on YouTube.com, along with videos posted by individual Iranians critical of the regime. The site also has Iranian pop music videos, which are frowned upon by the religious leadership.

In October, Reporters Without Borders named Iran as one of the 13 worst culprits for systematic online censorship, along with Belarus, China, Cuba, Egypt, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam, the report further said.

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