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US Seizes Iranian State News Sites


The website of Al-Masirah television's website, which belongs to Yemen's Houthis, is seen with a notice which appeared on a number of Iran-affiliated websites saying they had been seized by the U.S. government, in a screenshot taken June 22, 2021.

The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday seized nearly three dozen Iran-linked news websites, which it accused of spreading disinformation.

"Today, pursuant to court orders, the United States seized 33 websites used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU) and three websites operated by Kata'ib Hizballah (KH), in violation of U.S. sanctions," a DOJ statement said.

Iranian media confirmed that several state-linked news websites appeared "seized" by the U.S. government without any clear reason or explanation.

Among the sites abruptly taken offline were state television's English-language Press TV, its Arabic channel Al-Alam, and Yemeni Houthi rebels' Al-Masirah satellite news channel.

The message on the websites said the seizures had been "in accordance with a seizure warrant," and it appeared with the seals of the FBI and the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security.

Al-Masirah released a statement acknowledging its seizure, saying it would continue its mission of "confronting the American and Israeli acts of piracy against our nation, by any means."

The news channel quickly began operating a website under a new domain name, Reuters reported. Press TV also tweeted out a new domain name for its website Tuesday.

Press TV reports international news that is filtered through the lens of Iran's leaders, the Associated Press reported. It commonly criticizes the foreign policy of the United States and Britain.

The move comes days after Iran elected Ebrahim Raisi, a prominent critic of the West, as its new president.

In October, the U.S. seized 92 domain names it said were "unlawfully used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps" to spread misinformation.

Domains tied to Iran-backed groups in Iraq and to Hezbollah, the Lebanese military-political faction, were also frozen with the U.S. Justice Department message, Agence France-Presse reported Tuesday.

Masood Farivar contributed to this report. Some material for this article came from wire service reports.