An Iranian woman walks past an anti-US mural on the wall of the former US embassy in Tehran
An Iranian woman holds her national flag as she walks past an anti-US mural depicting the Statue of Liberty on the wall of the former US embassy in Tehran, 2010. Iran blocked an Internet website the United States was touting as a "virtual embassy," and which senior MPs slammed as an attempt to deceive the Iranian people and divide them from the government. © BEHROUZ MEHRI - AFP/File
An Iranian woman walks past an anti-US mural on the wall of the former US embassy in Tehran
AFP
Last updated: December 7, 2011

Iran blocks US virtual embassy

Iran on Wednesday blocked an Internet website the United States was touting as a "virtual embassy," and which senior MPs slammed as an attempt to deceive the Iranian people and divide them from the government.

The address, http://iran.usembassy.gov/, was inaccessible inside Iran, instead showing a message in Farsi saying: "In accordance with computer crime laws, access to this website is not possible."

Other websites Iran's authorities find objectionable have also long been blocked, including Facebook, non-English Google sites and many foreign media pages.

Alaeddin Borujerdi, the head of the Iranian parliamentary national security and foreign policy commission, said the new US website was a misguided attempt to make the Iranian people believe Washington wanted to communicate with them.

"The opening of the virtual embassy by the US is a new deception by the Great Satan," he said, according to the parliamentary news agency.

"The Iranian nation will not be fooled by this deception," he said.

Another influential MP, Hassan Ghafouri-Fard, was quoted by state television as saying the website was set up because "the US wants to create division between Iran's nation and government."

He ruled out any formal diplomatic relations being restored with the United States in the near future.

"Until the US gives up its conspiracies and anti-Iran diplomacy, the Iranian nation will have no desire to establish relations, even at the level of virtual embassies," he said.

The United States opened the Internet-only "embassy" on Tuesday, saying it wanted to reach out to Iranians despite the absence of official ties, and vowing to break through the Islamic regime's "electronic curtain."

The website offers US policy statements in English and Farsi, gives information on US visas, and provides news from the US-funded Voice of America.

The United States and Iran broke off diplomatic relations after militant students seized the US embassy in Tehran in 1979, taking 52 Americans inside hostage for 444 days.

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