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Iran to suspend Google's Gmail - report

By David Goldman, staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The government of Iran announced on Wednesday it would suspend Google's e-mail service as it prepares to unveil a national e-mail service for Iranians, according to a news report.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Iranian telecommunications agency will soon debut its new e-mail service, which Iranian officials hope will help develop national technologies and foster a certain level of trust between the government and its citizens.

The newspaper's journalist who reported the story said the announcement was first reported on the Web site of the Iranian Labour News Agency -- aligned with former President Mohammad Hashemi Rafsanjani, a reformist -- but the material has since been pulled off the site. CNN was not able to immediately confirm either report.

"We have heard from users in Iran that they are having trouble accessing Gmail," a Google spokesman said. "We can confirm a sharp drop in traffic, and we have looked at our own networks and found that they are working properly."

"Whenever we encounter blocks in our services we try to resolve them as quickly as possibly because we strongly believe that people everywhere should have the ability to communicate freely online," the spokesman added. "Sadly, sometimes it is not within our control."

Iranians have reported Gmail services being down for several days: A Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) help forum on Gmail in Iran was filled with complaints about a loss of Gmail service in Iran dating back to Feb. 3.

It appeared, however, that Yahoo and other e-mail services were still working late Wednesday. Accustomed to such blocks, Iranians have become savvy about alternative links allowing them to get around government filters so they can communicate via e-mail.

Thousands of Iranian citizens have been taking to the streets in protest of the government since the recent elections, and clashes between authorities and protesters have been a near-daily occurrence.

-- CNN Wires contributed to this report To top of page

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