Lowlight: Radio Free Asia blogger Truong Duy Nhat, known for his critical exposés on the Communist Party, went missing in Thailand in January 2019 amid widespread speculation he was abducted by Vietnamese agents. He re-emerged in March in Hanoi’s T-16 prison, where he was being held without charge, according to news reports.Blogger Truong Duy Nhat stands trial in Da Nang, Vietnam, on March 4, 2014. In January 2019, he disappeared in Thailand, and in March was reported to be detained in Hanoi’s T-16 detention center. (Vietnam News Agency via AFP)
Leadership: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in power since 1989. President Hassan Rouhani, in office since 2013.
How censorship works: Iran’s government jails journalists, blocks websites, and maintains a climate of fear with harassment and surveillance, including of journalists’ families. Domestic media must adhere to tight government controls. All journalists working in Iran must receive official accreditation; those permissions are regularly suspended or revoked. Foreign bureaus are permitted but work under intense scrutiny; correspondents from international outlets have had their permission to work suspended for periods of time, and in some cases permanently. Authorities arrest and impose harsh prison sentences on journalists who cover topics deemed sensitive, including local corruption and protests. The government suppresses online expression by spying on domestic and international journalists, jamming satellite television broadcasts, and blocking millions ofwebsites and key social media platforms, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran and U.S. Congress-funded Radio Farda. When nationwide anti-government protests took place in late 2017 and early 2018, authorities throttled and shut down the internet and mobile networks, according to Newsweek. They banned circumvention tools and used hacking and trolling campaigns targeted at domestic and international reporters, Radio Farda reported. The National Cyberspace Council has banned Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube–and the messaging apps Telegram and WhatsApp–but these are accessible via VPNs, according to Bloomberg.