The wonderful bastion of free speech, liberty, and general all round niceness the Islamic Republic of Iran has decided to close access to Google's Gmail service. Like that other champion of human rights, the People's Republic of China, it seems Iran has gotten a tad miffed with pesky Google and to have decided that enough is enough.

The story goes that Iran will soon shut down access to Gmail on a pretty permanent sort of basis and will instead be offering its own national e-mail service. Whether the recent launch of Google Buzz has anything to do with this is anyone's guess, but Google was able to confirm Gmail access problems in Iran; they declined to finger point at the actual Iranian authorities as being those responsible, though.

The initial shut down was reported last Wednesday and as of today the service has not been reestablished. With many opposing journalists arrested and private newspapers closed in Iran, the Internet is considered the most prominent medium for citizens to get informed outside of the government's spectrum.