Iran blocks US ‘virtual embassy’ website

Iran blocked a “virtual embassy” website less than 24 hours after the State Department launched it on Tuesday, a State spokesman said Wednesday.

The Associated Press reported from Tehran Wednesday that the website could no longer be accessed in Iran.

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The U.S. has not had an embassy in Iran since the Iran hostage crisis in 1979.

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 21st century 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.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that many Iranians can still access the website through private networks that allow them to work around the government blocking websites.

The embassy site, which features a video on the home page from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is available in both English and Farsi.