"No social network or messenger was blocked by this government and won't be blocked," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated, as cited by the INSA News Agency. "The government wants a safe but not controlled internet. We want a free flow of information as well as the right for citizens of a free choice online."
The ban was expected after Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated on his Telegram channel, he was leaving the service in order to protect the national interest.
"This move comes ahead of plans by the authorities to block Telegram and is aimed at supporting domestic social media apps," Khamenei announced, urging Iranian officials to follow his lead.
These restrictions also follow the conflict around the popular app last January, when Telegram was temporarily banned in the wake of mass protests in more than 80 major Iranian cities, many of which, the government says, were coordinated via the messenger. However, the ban was swiftly lifted after the unrest calmed down.
In 2017, Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov stated, that 40 million Iranian citizens used the app monthly, which meant the app was among the most popular social networks in the country.