Access To U.S. ‘Virtual Embassy’ Is Blocked By Iran

Just hours after the United States launched a “virtual embassy” for Iranian citizens, the Iranian government moved to block access to it.

The Los Angeles Times reports that users attempting to access the site from Iran were greeted with a message in Farsi saying, “In accordance with computer crime laws, access to this website is not possible.”

As Korva reported, the website was intended as a “bridge between the American and Iranian people:”

“The State Department says while the Iranian government is trying to shut off information to its citizens about the U.S., it’s still reaching out to Iranian civilians. Earlier this year, the agency set up Twitter and Facebook pages in Farsi, both of which can be accessed from the new website. And new features include a video greeting from President Obama on the occasion of the Iranian New Year, also translated into Farsi.”

ABC News reports that the State Department expected the blocking.

“The fact that they would — in fact, the Iranian government would attempt to block access to a site that… does nothing more other than offer information about how to travel to the United States and opportunities for travel to the United States, as well about our policies, in a very transparent and straightforward manner, speaks volumes about their trust in their own citizens,” ABC quotes deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner as saying.

Through its official English-language news outlet, Iran called the virtual embassy a “psywar tactic.” Press TV reports:

Lawmaker Mohammad Karamirad said that launching a virtual embassy is in line with the US psychological war launched against Iran.

“Given their behavior and their meddling, the Americans will get no results from launching a virtual embassy. They are even mulling military threats to put them on their agenda if they can,” he added.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.