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Iran to media: no cameras allowed

How are you covering the story?
The journalists who had visas to cover the elections have now been told that they have to leave the country. And the journalists who have permanent press cards here, such as myself, have been told that we are absolutely not allowed to film in the streets, that it is prohibited.

VIDEO: NBC's Ali Arouzi reports on the ongoing demonstrations in Iran

The Ministry of Islamic Guidance, which looks after the foreign press here, issued these new rules, saying that these demands have come from above.

But we were out today, walking in the streets, without a camera. We were out and we were just observing what was going on.  

How are Iranian officials restricting reporting? 

They have essentially cut off all communication. All mobile phones have been cut off. Text messaging is gone. Internet has become very sporadic – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. None of these things work.

When we went out in the streets on Tuesday, we couldn't call in to do a phone interview because the mobile phones have been cut off.   

In terms of doing live reports, the Ministry of Islamic Guidance has given us permission to report from inside our office and appear on television from there. But we are not allowed to do any filming outside. No photographs, no video cameras, no mobile phone footage.

There are still tons of students outside using their mobile phone cameras. Several days ago they were able to send images via the Internet, but I don't know if they can right now. That's why we are seeing so few images coming out of here, and I think we'll see even fewer in the days ahead.

How is the government enforcing the rules restricting reporting?
If security forces see someone with a camera outside, they will be arrested within a second. The government has made it very clear that it is illegal right now to film outside. And there are huge numbers of plainclothes security forces on the streets to enforce the rules.

Why were the cell phones one of the first things cut off by the government?
The cell phones have been cut off because they were a tool that the demonstrators were using to communicate with each other and organize rallies and protests – especially by text messaging. Text messaging was the most powerful tool used by the protesters to organize rallies and keep people in the loop about what's going on where.

But text messaging has been completely cut off for about five or six days now. Mobile phone reception keeps coming in and out. Whenever the mobiles get cut off totally like this, it's an indication that the government here is worried about a lot of unrest.

One of the important things to note though is that these rallies that are going on now are being organized via word of mouth. Everybody at every corner will tell you – up there is this rally, down there is this rally, make sure you walk towards that place.

Word of mouth is spreading through Tehran like wildfire.

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