Fifty owners of websites have been arrested and are facing criminal charges in Iran, reports AFP.

Officials say they have shut down 90 anti-Islamic and pornographic websites since March.

“The accused in these cases face several charges, and so we will call for the maximum punishment prescribed by the law,” Tehran's deputy prosecutor Reza Jafari said. Jafari said the operators deserve to face the death penalty, but would not comment on when they would go on trial.

Jafari said the websites were shut down because they contained pornographic material including “incest, sex with children and animals, homosexuality and erotic stories” as well as “insults to religious sanctities.”

In September 2007, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told students at Columbia University that there were no gay men or lesbians in Iran.

“In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country,” he said to boos from the audience. “In Iran we do not have this phenomenon, I don't know who has told you that we have it.”

Iran's Revolutionary Guards militia accused Google, the Internet search engine, of “offering financial support” to the owners of the unidentified websites.