UPDATE: Moscow court rules to block Telegram until decoding keys sent
(Adds comments in last four paragraphs)
MOSCOW, Apr 13 (PRIME) -- The Tagansky Court of Moscow supported on Friday a lawsuit filed by the communications service to block popular messenger Telegram for its refusal to hand over decoding keys to the security service.
Consideration of the case was brisk with the provision of proof having taken less than half an hour.
Spokespeople for the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media and the Federal Security Service said that Telegram’s reluctance to submit decoding keys threatens interests of the state and the society and can be used by terrorists.
Telegram’s lawyers were absent from the hearing, saying that Telegram’s founder and CEO Pavel Durov banned them from attending the procedure in order not to legitimize “an ill-disguised farce.”
Telegram will be blocked in Russia until it hands over keys to decode users’ messages to the country’s authorities, the court said.
The court earlier declined a request to delay hearings upon a demand of Telegram’s lawyers.
“The court views an application (of Telegram’s lawyers) to postpone the case as an abuse of the law,” the judge said.
Dmitry Kolbasin, a spokesperson for international human rights group Agora, said Telegram’s representatives had not received the text of the communications service’s lawsuit or any other documents on the case.
“We don’t have a real opportunity to present any objections against the lawsuit or our proof since we’ve not seen the lawsuit yet,” Kolbasin said, adding that this is why lawyer Dmitry Dinze had asked the court for a delay of hearings and for receipt of documents.
A spokesperson for the Federal Security Service told the court that Telegram had failed to justify its inability to submit keys to decipher users’ messages.
“We support the claimed requirements of the communications service and find them legal and well-grounded. Telegram did not provide the Federal Security Service with the asked information or any information about its inability to fulfil the request,” the spokesperson for the security service said.
Telegram’s lawyers will contest the court’s decision on the messenger’s blocking, Kolbasin said.
“Lawyers of international (group) Agora were unable to take part in this farce today. Now it’s important for us to receive today’s court decision, study it and, certainly, our lawyers are going to challenge it,” he said.
Such a fast consideration of a case has been the first in the practice of the organization’s lawyers.
“Telegram’s position is unchanged: requirements of the Federal Security Service to provide access to personal correspondence of the messenger’s users do not comply with the Constitution and are not based on the law. Besides, these requirements are technically unfeasible. The demand of blocking is unjustified and illegal,” Kolbasin said.