Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gestures while delivering the keynote address at the f8 Facebook Developer Conference on April 30, 2014, in San Francisco.
A judge in Iran wants Mark Zuckerberg to appear in court to answer privacy complaints related to Facebook-owned companies WhatsApp and Instagram, according to the news agency ISNA.
The judge also reportedly ordered the Iranian government to block Instagram and WhatsApp, according to the Associated Press. This is the second time in less than a week that an Iranian court has taken measures to restrict Instagram, one of the last Western-based social media services that remains unblocked in the country. Facebook,YouTube, and Twitter have long been inaccessible there, although some have found workarounds.
"The Zionist director of the company of Facebook, or his official attorney must appear in court to defend himself and pay for possible losses," Ruhollah Momen-Nasab, an Iranian Internet official, was quoted by ISNA, according to Reuters.
Last week, another court ordered Iran's Ministry of Telecommunications to block access to Instagram, but the photo-sharing app is still accessible in the country. Iran temporarily blocked Instagram for around 13 hours in December.
It's highly unlikely that Zuckerberg will ever have to appear in court in IranIt's highly unlikely that Zuckerberg will ever have to appear in court in Iran, as no extradition treaty exists between Iran and the United States. The U.S. would likely never extradite an American citizen to another country.
WhatsApp has also been targeted by the Iranian government in the last few weeks. In early May, the Iranian Committee for Determining Criminal Web Content, the judicial system's branch responsible for online censorship, announced it wanted to ban the mobile chat app, with the committee's secretary Abdolsamad Khorramabadi calling Zuckerberg an "American Zionist."
But Iranian President Hassan Rouhani prevented the ban from going into effect, once again showing the internal struggle between Iranian hardliners and the relatively more progressive government of Rouhani, who has long promised to open up to the West and to ease up restrictions online.
Despite Rouhani's promises, however, Iran has blocked a series of online services over the past year, including Google Sites, WhatsApp competitor WeChat and the encrypted online chat service Cryptocat. At the same time, Rouhani and other government leaders, including Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, are active on social media with accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.