State Department uses encrypted app to reach Iranians directly on coronavirus

by WorldTribune Staff, March 18, 2020

The United States is encouraging Iranian citizens to use an encrypted messaging app, which was originally set up to report terror suspects, to detail in real time what is happening with the coronavirus crisis.

‘We have a constant flow of information with thousands of Iranians as a result of setting up this channel.’ / YouTube

The full scope of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in Iran remains a mystery amid a consistent lack of transparency and truth coming from the ruling mullahs, analysts say.

Iran’s government “adopted a policy toward the coronavirus outbreak that prioritized the regime’s survival and prestige over the public’s welfare,” Iranian public health policy analyst Amir Afkhani said.

The U.S. said it wants to hear directly from Iran’s citizens rather than rely on the Iranian government’s official reporting on the coronavirus. The encrypted line is on the Telegram messaging app.

“The message we are sending is we want your stories and videos. We want to see what is happening and we will share it with you, because the Iranian regime isn’t allowing you to see it yourselves,” said a U.S. State Department official.

The encrypted app was originally set up so Iranians could report terrorist suspects in exchange for cash

“We have a constant flow of information with thousands of Iranians as a result of setting up this channel,” an administration official said.

The administration also created an online survey for Iranians to send information to Washington. Sent from the State Department’s Farsi account (@USAdarFarsi), the 37-question survey has already generated more than 7,000 responses.

“Please take the time to respond to this anonymous survey and link it to everyone you know in Iran,” the post read in Farsi.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted: “As @Khamenei_ir (Khamenei) knows, the best biological defense would’ve been to tell the Iranian people the truth about the Wuhan virus when it spread to #Iran from China. Instead, he kept Mahan Air flights coming and going to the epicenter in China and jailed those who spoke out.”

In November, Pompeo put out a call via Twitter asking for evidence that the regime had suppressed protests against Teheran’s leadership. Pompeo said the State Department received some 20,000 messages, photos, and videos, from Iranian citizens who chronicled the protests.

For it’s part, Washington did offer to help Iran with the coronavirus outbreak. The only condition is that Iran must release political prisoners whom Pompeo said are “wrongly detained.” Iranian leadership turned down the offer.


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