GOP members of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) have fired off a letter to Paul Davison, the CEO of social media app Clubhouse, after Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif spoke on the app.
The letter stated, “The room served as a platform for Mr. Zarif to spread the regime’s propaganda to thousands of people … Iran’s official government news agency, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), controlled by Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Guidance, even posted the Clubhouse conversation on its official website on April 1st, in violation of Clubhouse rules, as part of promoting the Iranian regime’s narrative ahead of international talks on Iran’s nuclear program.”
Zarif spoke on Clubhouse on March 31 to champion a deal between Iran and China. The event was titled, “Unsaid: The Memorandum Between Iran and China, In Conversation with the Foreign Ministry Spokesman.”
The RSC stated:
The room served as a platform for Mr. Zarif to spread the regime’s propaganda to thousands of people. Mr. Zarif is a senior official of Iran, which is the world’s leading State Sponsor of Terrorism, has slogans including “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” and is responsible for gross abuses of human rights against its own people as well as the people of the Middle East region. Mr. Zarif, who holds a Clubhouse account, is also sanctioned by Executive Order 13876 for being part of the patronage network of the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamanei.
Iran’s official government news agency, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), controlled by Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Guidance, even posted the Clubhouse conversation on its official website on April 1st, in violation of Clubhouse rules, as part of promoting the Iranian regime’s narrative ahead of international talks on Iran’s nuclear program.
Rep. Joe Wilson, (R-S.C.), chairman of the RSC National Security and Foreign Affairs Task Force told Fox News, “The Iranian regime never stopped chanting Death to America, and they mean it. This is a regime which has killed over 500 U.S. service members in Iraq through its support of terrorist militias and use of IEDs. Why in the world would Clubhouse allow the Foreign Minister of Iran’s terrorist regime, someone under U.S. sanctions, to have an account and host a talk spreading propaganda and lies to thousands of people? U.S. sanctions law must be updated to remove special protections for social media platforms to provide such services to terrorists.”
The RSC asked in the letter:
Does Clubhouse support providing services to senior officials of State Sponsors of Terrorism and individuals sanctioned under U.S. law?
Does hosting an event sponsored by senior officials of a State Sponsor of Terrorism violate and Clubhouse policies, rules, or guidelines? If not, why not?
Are you aware that the official news agency of the Iranian government posted a recording of the Clubhouse conversation on March 31st, in violation of Clubhouse rules? Does Clubhouse intend to penalize Iranian officials involved in the Clubhouse conversation including Zarif, Khatibzadeh, and others for their violation of Clubhouse rules?
Do you realize that the Iranian regime, the world’s foremost State Sponsor of Terrorism, has used its conversation on Clubhouse to further its propaganda and disinformation ahead of international talks over Iran’s nuclear program?
RSC chairman Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) asked, “Clubhouse has a simple question to answer: Why are you giving leaders of a hostile terrorist regime a platform? Americans would like to know.”
Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) echoed, “Clubhouse is just the latest example of Silicon Valley tech companies repeatedly giving terrorist leaders platforms to spread their propaganda and recruit for their cause. The ultimate goal of terrorist groups is to completely destroy the western world. Contrast Silicon Valley’s enabling of terrorist propaganda with their constant censorship of conservatives and suppression of free speech and you have the greatest hypocrisy of the 21st Century.”
Cameron Khansarinia, the policy director for the National Union for Democracy in Iran, which publicizes Iranian dissidents’ efforts to confront the despotic Iranian regime, also fired off a letter to Davison in which he stated:
On April 1st, 2021 a 54:40 minute recording of the Clubhouse conversation was posted on the website of IRNA, the Islamic Republic News Agency, the Islamic Republic’s official news outlet controlled by Mr. Zarif’s government, specifically, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
This is a violation of Clubhouse’s clearly-defined rule: “You may not transcribe, record, or otherwise reproduce and/or share information obtained in Clubhouse without prior permission.” Though it is not clear whether Mr. Zarif himself recorded the conversation, including the voices of other speakers, as a representative of his government which perpetrated this violation of Clubhouse rules, he should be subject to Clubhouse’s consequence which you indicate include “can also result in removal from the Service.”
On behalf of Iranian-Americans and human rights dissidents whose rights to privacy were violated and who are threatened every day by Mr. Zarif’s regime, we urge you to address this flagrant violation of Clubhouse rules. If left unaddressed, this violation represents a dangerous precedent for dictators and their surrogates everywhere.