Thursday 23 November 2017

US launches 'virtual' embassy for Iran; Iran: US Virtual Embassy Blocked

The Obama administration is launching a "virtual embassy" for Iran more than three decades after the bricks and mortar mission in Tehran was closed and diplomatic relations severed following the 1979 Islamic revolution and hostage crisis. Iran blocked the “virtual embassy” website less than 24 hours after launched. Iranians can still access the website through private networks (VPN) and Proxy that allow them to work around the government blocking websites.

US launches 'virtual' embassy for Iran; Iran: US Virtual Embassy Blocked

The web-based "embassy" went online Tuesday with versions in English and Farsi explaining why the administration has chosen this method of reaching out to the Iranian people.

The English- and Farsi-language website, designed by Washington as a virtual diplomatic mission, had been briefly available to Internet users in Tehran after its Tuesday debut. It could not be accessed on Wednesday.

Iranian Internet users trying to view the site said they were greeted by a message stating that their browser could not display it, or by a page provided by Iranian authorities that suggested links to local websites instead.

The embassy website shuttering drew a quick rebuke from the Obama administration.

“We condemn the Iranian government’s efforts to deny their people the freedom to access America’s recently launched Virtual Embassy Tehran,” Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. “The Iranian government’s systematic efforts to deny information to its citizens—to control what the Iranian people see and hear—is doomed to fail in a 21stcentury when technology is empowering citizens around the globe.”

Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have risen in the past week after Iran claimed it shot down an unmanned and captured it. The Senate also passed an amendment last week by a 100-0 vote calling for sanctions against firms and governments that do business with the Iranian central bank.

The embassy site, which features a video on the home page from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: