Supreme leader tweetings infuriate Iran's persecuted bloggers Twitter account apparently run from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's office draws accusations of hypocrisy after online crackdown Saeed Kamali Dehghan guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 12 January 2011 16.44 GMT <li class="history">Article history An image posted on Twitter by a Tehran University group. Iran's government says such websites were created to topple the Islamic regime. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images A Twitter account believed to belong to Iran's supreme leader has triggered controversy among Iranians whose own access to social networking websites remains blocked. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the man who has the final word in Iran, has come under intense criticism from Iran's many bloggers for launching a crackdown on Twitter and Facebook while his office apparently runs a Twitter account under Khamenei_ir. The official website of the opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi criticised Khamenei for allegedly signing up to Twitter under the headline: "If it's prohibited why is it that the leader's office has a Twitter account?" Since the disputed presidential election in June 2009, the government has repeatedly condemned Iranians who use Facebook and Twitter, saying the social networking sites were created by Iran's enemies to topple the Islamic regime. Iran has also imprisoned many journalists and bloggers for posting comments online or for simply having accounts on such sites. Hamzeh Ghalebi, an Iranian blogger sympathetic to the opposition green movement, wrote: "If we assume that using a blocked website is illegal, why are some people banned from using it and others allowed? Aren't we supposed to be equal before the law?" The purported Khamenei Twitter account does not follow anyone (people in Iran are supposed to follow the supreme leader according to law). It has 888 followers and displays the same logo as his official website Khamenei's signature. The Iranian embassy in London said today that it could not confirm whether the account is run by his office. Most of the tweets are quotes by Khamenei, and links to his speeches and statements. "Supreme Leader in meeting with Emir of Qatar: Persian Gulf's security is in benefit of region. if not, everybody will be in loss," reads one. Access to more than 5m websites is blocked inside Iran. According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Iran is the world's leading jailer of journalists and bloggers. More than 100 have been imprisoned since the 2009 election. In September a prominent blogger, Hossein Derakhshan, was sentenced to 19 and a half years in prison. Another blogger, Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki, has been in prison since December 2009 after being sentenced to 15 years. Navid Mohebbi, an 18-year-old blogger and high school student, was recently given a three-year suspended sentence. Iran has more than a million bloggers, of whom at least 10% are active and Persian is among the world's top languages online. Iran's hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the influential cleric Hashemi Rafsanjani and the controversial head of president's office, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, are among Iranian politicians with a private website. At least two fake Twitter accounts have been set up in Khamenei's name, both of which have attracted more audiences than the real account. Iran said last week that it has launched a cyber police unit to monitor the activities of Iranians online.