The White House is in talks with Elon Musk to set up SpaceX's satellite broadband service Starlink in Iran as the Biden administration searches for ways to support Iranians looking to get online amid the regime's restrictions to the internet and social media platforms. These restriction are in response to women taking to the streets to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, who died in September after she was reportedly beaten by police for defying the country's rules on wearing a hijab.
CNN first reported the news.
Musk's Starlink has provided crucial telecommunication services to Ukraine and has been critical to Kyiv's battlefield successes against Russia's invasion.
"We have our foot on the gas to do everything we possibly can to support the aspirations of the Iranian people," a senior administration official told CNN. "That is our policy, period. At the same time, it is truly an Iranian movement led by young girls and spreading to other aspects of society. And we do not want to in any way eclipse their movement."
President Joe Biden has openly supported the Iranian protesters and on Oct. 3 said his administration "stands with Iranian women and all the citizens of Iran who are inspiring the world with their bravery."
"We are interested in finding ways to ensure that the Iranian people can have access to the internet on their phones and everywhere else," the official told CNN. "And so Starlink is one option, but it is not the only option."
Musk, the billionaire chief executive of SpaceX and Tesla, last week complained about the cost of funding Starlink internet terminals in Ukraine but said his company would continue to pay for them.
"The hell with it," Musk tweeted on Saturday. "Even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we'll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free."
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