The U.S. Department of Justice seized 36 domains associated with news outlets in Iran, Yemen, and Palestine on Tuesday, according to a press release from the DOJ. The websites were taken for allegedly promoting disinformation campaigns and for violating U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard and radical terrorist groups.
The U.S. government was able to seize the .com and .net domains because they’re American-owned, despite the sites being operated from the Middle East. Some of the news websites that were taken by the U.S. government include Iran’s Press TV, Iran’s Al Alam, Iraq’s Al Forat News, Palestine’s Pal Today, Yemen’s Al Masirah TV, Iraq’s Karbala TV, among plenty of others.
The websites now all show a notice declaring that the domain has been seized by the U.S. government after obtaining a warrant:
The Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU) was placed on a special list by the Office of Foreign Assets Control in October of 2020 which means that Iranian news outlets aren’t allowed to receive website and domain services based in the U.S. without a special waiver.
The DOJ alleges that Iran’s news sites were merely “disguised as news organizations or media outlets” and “targeted the United States with disinformation campaigns and malign influence operations.”
Notably, Press TV, the Iranian state media channel, remains active on Twitter and has already moved its English-language content to presstv.ir, the Iranian top-level domain.
Press TV has already had on a number of people, including politicians and academics, who question America’s commitment to free speech if they’re censoring the websites of foreign news outlets.
“Apparently they don’t think that they can debate Press TV’s point of view, they are apparently unable to refute what Press TV is saying, they are unable to win a free and fair debate,” Kevin Barrett, an American radio host and critic of U.S. foreign policy against Iran, told Press TV. “The only way they can win the debate is preventing Press TV from presenting its viewpoints.”