Musk says activating Starlink, in response to Blinken on internet freedom in Iran

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Sept 23 (Reuters) - SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Friday that he would activate the firm's satellite internet service, Starlink, in response to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's tweet that the United States took action "to advance internet freedom and the free flow of information" to Iranians.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday issued guidance expanding internet services available to Iranians despite U.S. sanctions on the country, amid protests around Iran following the death of a 22-year-old woman in custody.

A Treasury official briefing reporters earlier on Friday said Starlink's commercial-grade system, which would involve sending hardware into Iran, would not be covered by the general license.

"That would be something that they would need to write into Treasury for," the official said.

Musk could not be reached for comments or clarification regarding Starlink's clearance to operate in Iran.

Iranians have been protesting over the death of Mahsa Amini last week, who was arrested by the morality police for wearing "unsuitable attire".

Musk said on Monday that the company wanted to provide Starlink satellite broadband service - already provided to Ukraine for its fight against Russia's invasion - to Iranians, and would ask for a sanctions exception. (Reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)