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Last Updated: Monday, 24 January, 2005, 17:07 GMT
US accused after Iran site closed
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The row has prompted calls for Iran to develop its own internet servers
Iran has accused the US government of ordering an American internet service provider to stop hosting the website of an official Iranian news agency.

The Iranian Student News Agency said no explanation had been given by the server, called The Planet, for its abrupt move to terminate the contract.

Isna, which is widely read in Iran, says it has moved to another server, which it did not name.

The Planet was unable to comment immediately on the allegations.

The row has led to calls for Iran to develop its own satellite technology.

Isna said it had received an e-mail from The Planet warning that the website would be terminated within 48 hours and that the decision was final and non-negotiable.

'Breakdown of trust'

The agency said it had sent repeated e-mails to the server, and then telephoned, but no satisfactory reason was given for the breach of contract.

A senior official in the Iranian ministry of Islamic guidance, which handles the media, accused the US government of breaching human rights by allegedly ordering the move.

He said it was a sign that Iran could not trust the US or Europe.

The BBC's Frances Harrison in Tehran says the incident has prompted renewed pressure on Iran and other Islamic nations to build up their own satellite communications technology.

This means they would no longer be dependent on the US or European countries.

Other official Iranian websites which also use American servers are braced for similar action against them, our correspondent adds.

Iran was last week cited as a "outpost of tyranny" by Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's choice for new US secretary of state, and it was and labelled the world's chief potential trouble-spot by Vice-President Dick Cheney.

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