U.S. says Iran cannot keep information from people

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department said on Wednesday it could not confirm whether Iran planned to suspend Google Inc’s e-mail service in the country but said any efforts to keep information from Iranians would fail.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported on its Web site that the Iranian government said it will permanently suspend Google’s e-mail service in the country.

“While information technologies are enabling people around the world to communicate ... like never before, the Iranian government seems determined to deny its citizens access to information, the ability to express themselves freely, network and share ideas,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

“Virtual walls won’t work in the 21st century any better than physical walls worked in the 20th century,” he added. “The Iranian people are dynamic and determined and will find a way to overcome the obstacles the Iranian government puts in their way.”

The Iranian authorities have sought to squelch protests that erupted after a June election that the opposition says was rigged to secure hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection. The authorities have rejected the charge and portrayed post-election protests as Western-backed.

Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Doina Chiacu