Musk says activating Starlink, in response to Blinken on internet freedom in Iran


The Starlink logo is seen on a smartphone in front of the displayed Ukrainian flag in this February 27, 2022 illustration. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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Sep 23 (Reuters) – SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Friday that he would activate the company’s satellite internet service, Starlink, in response to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s tweet that the United States was taking action “to promote internet freedom and the free flow of information” to Iranians.

The US Treasury Department on Friday issued guidelines expanding internet services available to Iranians despite US sanctions against the country, amid protests in Iran following the death in custody of a 22-year-old woman.

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An official briefing reporter from the Treasury Department said: “Our understanding of Starlink is that what they offer would be commercial quality and it would be hardware not covered in the general license; so that would be something they would have to write to the Treasury Department for.”

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A US State Department spokesman later said of Friday’s updated license that it was self-executing and that “anyone who meets the criteria described in this general license may proceed with their activities without requesting additional permits.”

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Musk could not be reached for comments or clarifications regarding Starlink’s approval to operate in Iran.

Iranians protested the death of Mahsa Amini last week while he was in police custody after he was arrested by morality police for wearing “inappropriate clothing”.

Musk said on Monday that the company wants to provide the Iranians with the Starlink satellite broadband service, which is already being provided to Ukraine for its fight against the Russian invasion, and will ask for an exemption from the sanctions.

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The US State Department spokesman added that if SpaceX determined that some activities targeting Iranians require a specific license, “OFAC would welcome and prioritize this.”

“If SpaceX determines that its activities are already authorized and has questions, OFAC also welcomes that engagement,” the State Department spokesman said.

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Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Kanishka Singh; Edited by Shailesh Kuber and Sandra Maler

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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