U.S. Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, has been questioned by the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) asking the Department to launch inquiry into actions by Microsoft, and possibly other Instant Messaging (IM) providers after access to IM was cut off to Cubans and other persons living in countries under U.S. sanctions.

“The United States has historically stood for broadening access to information, not curtailing it, and so we need to find out whether Microsoft and possibly other providers are cutting off access to IM because they think U.S. sanctions require them to do so, or because the Treasury Department has told them to do so,” said Sarah Stephens, executive director of the CDA.

“According to published reports, at least one U.S. provider – Microsoft and its Windows Live Messenger Service – has stopped offering IM to users in Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan, and North Korea. Yahoo, Google, and AOL may have taken similar actions. Microsoft is declining to reveal whether it pulled the plug on IM access in these countries at the behest of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control or did so voluntarily”, was written in the letter dated May 30 addressed to Treasury Secretary from the CDA calling for investigations into the matter.

The letter was made public by the CDA today.