Iran’s prosecutor general says the Ministry of Communication’s refusal to censor the messaging service WhatsApp in Iran is “against the law” and the minister must be held accountable.

The Minister of Communications has dismissed a call by the Supervisory Committee for the Determination of Criminal Cyber Content to block WhatsApp, an internet instant-messaging subscription service for smartphones.

Two weeks ago, Communication Minister Mahmoud Vaezi announced that President Rohani, as the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace, has ordered an end to the blocking of the WhatsApp service.

He added that until there is an appropriate Iranian alternative to the social networking site, the administration will not support cutting off access to networks that are “not destructive and do not harm public morals.”

Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, the prosecutor general, stressed on Monday May 19 that all directives of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace must still follow regulations, and “if the president has issued such an order, I have not been informed about it, but such an order would be in violation of the law.”

President Hassan Rohani has spoken strongly in favour of stopping internet censorship and improving public access to high-quality internet service. The Islamic Republic establishment has shown serious resistance to any relaxation of its web censorship practices.