THE US Justice Department has seized 33 Iranian government-affiliated media websites, as well as three of the Iraqi group Kataeb Hezbollah, which it said were hosted on US-owned domains in violation of sanctions.
This is a major attempt by the US to silence the growing support all over the world for the Iranian and Palestinian revolutions.
The websites were held by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU), which is reportedly run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp’s Quds Force (IRGC).
‘Components of the government of Iran … disguised as news organisations or media outlets targeted the United States with disinformation campaigns and malign influence operations,’ the US Justice Department said in a statement.
Yesterday, Iran’s foreign ministry called the seizure an example of a ‘systematic effort to distort freedom of speech on a global level and silence independent voices in media’.
Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh in a statement said the ‘shameful’ move by Washington shows that the Biden administration is continuing former President Donald Trump’s path, and vowed Iran will pursue the issue through legal channels.
Both IRTVU and IRGC have been placed on the US sanctions blacklist, making it illegal for Americans, US companies, and foreign or non-American companies with US subsidiaries to have business with them or their subsidiaries.
Visitors to leading Iranian media sites such as Press TV and Al-Alam, the country’s main English language and Arabic language broadcasters, as well as the Al-Masirah TV channel of Yemen’s Houthis, were met with single-page statements yesterday, declaring the website ‘has been seized by the United States Government’ accompanied by the seals of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Commerce Department.
The US government also took over the domain name of the news website Palestine Today, which reflects the viewpoints of Gaza-based groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, redirecting the site to the same notice.
Bahrain’s LuaLua TV, a channel run by opposition groups with offices in London and Beirut, was also seized by the US.
In the UK, Joe Brack of the Julian Assange Defence Campaign (JADC) condemned the US seizure of 33 pro-Iranian and pro Palestinian websites.
He said: ‘It is almost inevitable that the censorship of alternative news outlets that started with the twitter, facebook and youtube censorship, is now being applied across the board to especially foreign publications that don’t accord with the “western narrative”.
‘The fact that it is the US Department of Commerce and the US Department of Justice which is responsible, shows that not only have they extended their jurisdiction in the UK, pursuing publishers and journalists they are claiming ownership of the .coms.’
He concluded: ‘The US are imitating their Israeli friends by internet bombing uncomfortable news outlets, just as Israel bombed the media tower in Gaza which housed loads of outlets including Al Jazeera and Associated Press.’