01:30 - Source: CNN
Iran's mistrust of the U.S.

Story highlights

In the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran, some things haven't changed since 1979 hostage crisis

Embassy now includes a museum and a mural with anti-American graffiti

Guard shows off what he says is CIA section and a room where he says documents were forged

Tehran, Iran CNN —  

“This used to be the CIA area,” the guard said as he started turning a combination lock on a big and very heavy vault-like door.

Inside, one is taken back into the late 1970s, with green carpets on the floor and very old computers collecting dust.

We were inside the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Iranian authorities had given us permission to film inside the complex, and staff let us in.

Part of the alleged former CIA section have been turned into a museum, but other areas are almost as they were when Iranian protesters raided the embassy in 1979, taking dozens of Americans hostage.

A guard let us into the main building and led us up a flight of stairs.

The walls of the staircase have a giant mural with various anti-American themes.

From U.S. support for Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, to alleged American crimes against humanity and the shooting down of an Iranian airliner by a U.S. warship, America is portrayed in the graffiti as fundamentally evil.

The guard showed us several shredding devices, old computers allegedly used for surveillance and eavesdropping, and even a so-called “document forging room,” where phony passports and other IDs are said to have been produced.

The most remarkable exhibit in the former CIA area, though, is what the Iranians call the “Glassy Meeting Room.” That is a room made of plexiglass, allegedly impossible to eavesdrop on – at least with the technology that existed in the 1970s.

U.S. Embassy personnel used this room for secret meetings, according to the Iranian staff at the former embassy.

Most of the former embassy grounds are a museum nowadays, but parts are used by Iranian student organizations as offices.

But the complex is also a very emotional place for both Americans and Iranians. The memory of U.S. hostages in the hands of Iranian protesters symbolizes the moment the rift between Iran and America became a chasm, which still has not been bridged.