Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has blamed unnamed foreign “enemies” for the antigovernment protests that have swept his country for the past week, putting the demonstrators at risk of being accused of espionage or treason.
The accusation resonates for many Iranians, whose country has long been subject to foreign interference, from the American- and British-led coup in the 1950s to more recent efforts by the United States and Israel to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program. President Trump’s public support for the protesters has only reinforced suspicions of a foreign hand at work.
While there has been no evidence that foreign governments orchestrated the protests, several countries are now trying to decide how to support a goal they share with many of the demonstrators: a less corrupt, more democratic and more open Iranian government.
The State Department urged Iran on Tuesday not to restrict access to social media services like Instagram and messaging platforms like Telegram, which the protesters have used to spread word of anti-government gatherings. It even encouraged Iranians to use virtual private networks to sidestep government censorship, advice Iranians see as interference.
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