US President Donald Trump has hit out at the Iranian government for shutting down the internet amidst country-wide protests against it.
"Iran, the Number One State of Sponsored Terror with numerous violations of Human Rights occurring on an hourly basis, has now closed down the Internet so that peaceful demonstrators cannot communicate. Not good!" Trump tweeted last evening.
Earlier in the day, in a separate tweet, Trump said the US is watching "very closely" for human rights violations in Iran in wake of the protests.
"Big protests in Iran. The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!" he said.
Trump's statements were followed by a White House statement in support of the Iranian protesters. "We support the right of the Iranian people to express themselves peacefully. Their voices deserve to be heard," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said last night.
"We encourage all parties to protect this fundamental right to peaceful expression and to avoid any actions that contribute to censorship," she said.
In a separate statement, the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said the long-repressed Iranian people are now finding their voice.
"The Iranian government is being tested by its own citizens. We pray that freedom and human rights will carry the day," she said.
At least two demonstrators have reportedly been killed in the Iranian protests in the last few days, The New York Times said yesterday. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called for calm urging people not to resort to violence.
"We are a free nation, and based on the Constitution and citizenship rights, people are completely free to express their criticism and even their protest," Rouhani was quoted as saying by the state-run PressTV.