U.S. State Department says virtual embassy in Iran "heavily used"
Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 16 /Trend S.Isayev/
The virtual embassy in Iran is essentially an internet platform that the U.S. uses to talk directly to Iranians, and its quite heavily used, U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said at a daily briefing in Washington.
In October of 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in interviews with the Persian language services of the BBC and Voice of America said the United States plans to open a "virtual embassy" for Iran that would give Iranians online information about visas and student exchange programs despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties".
The virtual embassy went online in December of 2011, in English and Farsi languages. The U.S. at that time said the virtual embassy was not intended to replace an official diplomatic mission to Iran. In a statement, the state department said the virtual embassy should "work as a bridge" between America and Iran.
The US embassy in Iran was closed when militants stormed the premises and seized 52 American hostages in 1979. That sparked a crisis which endured for 444 days.
Later, Iran has blocked the virtual embassy website launched online by the US administration shortly after the website officially started work.
"Routinely, the the Iranians try to take it down, and we support various circumvention strategies in order to ensure that the site remains live and available to Iranians," Nuland noted.
When asked id most of the people who visit the virtual embassy are inside Iran, Nuland said that the website gets "a lot of traffic from Iranians self-identifying as being inside Iran".
Nuland added that U.S. Farsi Twitter feed and Facebook pages of the U.S. State Department are also very popular among Iranian people.
The department launched a Farsi-language Twitter account and Facebook page aimed at Iranians in 2011.