Washington: The US Justice Department said it has seized 33 websites used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union and three websites operated by the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia. US law enforcement seized the websites of two Iranian state-controlled newsgroups, Press TV and Al-Alam, and the Al-Masirah TV channel of Yemen’s Houthis on Tuesday, based on the statements posted on the websites.
Each site displayed a single page stating that it was seized by the US government and referencing US sanctions laws, along with the seal of the FBI and the Department of Commerce.
The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, the parent company of Al-Alam, reports other sites, including a Palestinian-directed broadcast and a religious and cultural channel, in Arabic, have also been seized.
IRIB criticized the United States for repressing freedom of expression and forming an alliance with Israel and Saudi Arabia ‘to block pro-resistance media outlets exposing the crimes committed by US allies in the region.’
Domains associated with Iran-backed groups in Iraq as well as Hezbollah, the Lebanese military-political faction, were also frozen with the Justice Department’s message.
In response to a question about the Press TV seizure, US State Department spokesman Ned Price declined to comment but referred reporters to the Justice Department, which he expected to provide information shortly.
Bahrain opposition groups’ channel LuaLua TV, which had offices in Beirut and London, was also closed, an AFP correspondent in the region reported.
In Yemen, the Houthis said on the website of their political wing that they condemned ‘this American piracy and copyright confiscation. The government of the United States of America is banning the Al-Masirah website without any justification or even prior notice.’
A-Masirah instantly established a new website, using its name but interchanging the .net domain for .com.
Meanwhile, LuaLua and Al-Masirah proceeded to broadcast new programs, AFP journalists said.
The United States maintains stern sanctions on Iran due to its nuclear weapons programs and alleged assistance for terror. Hundreds of Iranian groups and individuals have been put on the US sanctions blacklist. The sanctions prevent Americans and businesses and organizations with US operations from doing any business with Iran.