Twitter has suspended a Persian-language account associated with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after Friday’s post a death threat against former US President Donald Trump. The move came hours after several tweeters denounced the content of the tweet posted on @khamenei_site. Other accounts related to the highest Iranian authority in different languages remain operational as they have not included the controversial message.
“Revenge is inevitable,” said the tweet about the image of a golfer with a great resemblance to Trump who is approached by the shadow of a drone. “Soleimani’s assassin and whoever ordered his death must pay,” he added, repeating the promise of reprisals that Khamenei made in mid-December on the anniversary of the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani by a US drone in Baghdad. Although the text does not mention Trump’s name, the photo montage leaves no doubt about the objective.
Twitter justified the closure of the account for having “violated the rules” of the social network, as two weeks ago it did with Trump himself. In accordance with international law, the platform prohibits posting death threats or messages that incite violence. Soon after, however, he clarified that it was a fake account. It is not so clear. None of the half dozen linked to Khamenei in different languages is verified with the little blue bird that assures that the holder is who he claims to be. That does not mean that they are false.
Despite the fact that Twitter, like other social networks, is officially blocked in Iran, the supreme leader and other high officials use it regularly. Of course, as in the case of many other leaders, it is not Khamenei who writes the tweets directly but the members of his office who are in charge of communication. His different accounts consistently tweet the speeches he makes, which also appear on his official website.
The message and the image of the controversial tweet are in that Web, in both Persian and English, Arabic or Urdu, since Khamenei delivered the speech on December 16 (in other languages, the image that accompanies the text is different, although it also features Trump, in whom the Iranian leader found a enemy at his height). In fact, @khamenei_site’s message was retweeted by his main Persian account, @Khamenei_fa (with a larger number of followers), and by the Iranian news agency Tasnim (close to the Revolutionary Guard). Both withdrew it after the suspension of the first one. His Twitter in Spanish, English and other languages did not repeat it.
At the beginning of the month, the platform already deleted a tweet from Khamenei in which he said that vaccines manufactured in the United States and the United Kingdom are unreliable and are intended to “contaminate other nations.” The platform said it violated its rules against disinformation. The video that contains this message, however, is still available on its website and is still the cover theme the site in Spanish, usually more delayed in incorporating the leader’s interventions than the pages in Persian or English.