Iranian security forces have arrested 30 people accused of waging cyber-war against the country with the backing of the United States.
A few hours after announcing the arrests the Islamic Revolutionary Guards said they had hacked 29 websites they allege are funded by US spooks. The sites use a cover of human rights activity to disguise an espionage network.
Tehran's Public and Revolutionary Court said on Saturday that the network of sites was designed to collect information about Iran's nuclear programme.
The sites were also accused of: "provoking sedition and illegal demonstrations and rallies through releasing unreal and unfounded news and reports after the June presidential elections ... providing media and news support for the Jundollah terrorist group and the monarchist opposition groups."
The network was accused of distributing 70 million copies of US-made anti-filtering software.
Iranian authorities said the sites were funded by the US via opposition groups like the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization and monarchist groups.
In other news, Venezulan news websites have hit back at attacks from Hugo Chavez, the country's president. Chavez last week called for internet regulation and singled out one site - Noticierio Digital for criticism.
The site responded angrily to Chavez's attack, accusing him of threatening freedom of expression in all forms of media - the internet being just the most recent example. The site said the comments singled out by Chavez were posted without moderation, and were removed from the site as soon as it was made aware of them. ®