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Afghanistan Revokes WhatsApp, Telegram Ban


The Afghan government says it will not block the instant-messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram.

In a meeting on November 6, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah decided "there will be no ban on WhatsApp and Telegram," Abdullah wrote on Twitter.

His spokesman, Javed Faisal, reiterated the announcement. "Government of Afghanistan isn't going to ban any social media platforms. WhatsApp and Telegram to continue operating in Afghanistan," he wrote on Twitter.

An Afghan presidential statement said the country’s constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech. "The national unity government is committed to protecting those values,” read the statement.

The announcement followed days of confusion after a letter from Afghanistan's telecom regulator to Internet service providers directed them to block the services "without delay." Last week, the letter was widely circulated on social media platforms.

The letter ordered Internet providers to block the popular messaging apps from November 1 to November 20 to "resolve technical problems."

But some cited unidentified sources claiming the ban was ordered by Afghan security officials to stop the use of encrypted messaging by Taliban militants and other extremist groups.

More than 1 billion people use the Facebook-owned WhatsApp globally. The much smaller but rapidly growing Telegram app is popular in Afghanistan.

-- With reporting by Reuters and AFP

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