A day after Twitter suspended the accounts of several Iranian state media outlets, the social networking service said on Saturday it acted after harassment of people linked to the Baha’i faith. It did not name the suspended accounts, and said it was continuing to investigate the matter. “Account suspended. Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Rules,” read English-language messages on each of the Iranian media outlets’ accounts.
The micro-blogging platform is banned in Iran, but many officials still have accounts and people access them by using a virtual private network, or VPN, to bypass censorship.
However, news agencies said the suspensions took place after the seizure of the tanker Stena Impero in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
Earlier, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard had said it seized the Swedish-owned tanker for breaking “international maritime rules” in the strait, a chokepoint for around a third of the world’s sea-borne oil.
Amid soaring tensions in the region, London said it wants to de-escalate tensions with Tehran.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that having spoken to his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, Tehran saw the situation as a “tit for tat”.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.
“Grace 1 was detained legally in Gibraltarian waters because it was carrying oil, against EU sanctions, to Syria, and that’s why the Gibraltarian authorities acted totally with respect to due process and totally within the law.
“Stena Impero was seized in Omani waters in clear contravention of international law. It was then forced to sail into Iran.
“This is totally and utterly unacceptable. It raises very serious questions about the security of British shipping, and indeed international shipping, in the Strait of Hormuz.” Hunt said parliament would be updated on Monday about what further measures the British government would take.
“Our priority continues to be to find a way to de-escalate the situation,” he said.
Hunt said the Stena Impero must be released, and Britain was “very concerned” about the safety of the 23 crew.
The Philippines said 18 Indians, three Russians, a Latvian and a Filipino were aboard the Swedish-owned ship.