US seizes Iran-linked websites, on the ground of disinformation

Among the websites that the US blocked, there are ones linked to the Houthi group in Yemen.

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The US Justice Department announced that 36 Iranian-linked websites had been blocked for violating US sanctions. The statement issued by the Justice Department noted that many of the websites were linked with either disinformation activities or violent organizations.

Stressing that the step was taken in accordance with court orders, the statement highlighted that 33 of the websites belong to the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU) while the remaining three are run by Kataib Hezbollah (KH), all violating US sanctions.

According to the statement, domains used by IRTVU belong to a US company. It was also indicated that IRTVU did not get a license from the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Iraqi group Kataib Hezbollah is known as Iranian-aligned and on the US’ Foreign Terrorist Organization list.

It was later seen that some of the sites were back online with new domain addresses.

Among the sites seized there are Press TV, the Iranian government’s main English-language satellite television channel, and Al Alam, its Arabic-language equivalent. Both were reactivated through Iranian domain addresses Alalam.ir and Presstv.ir.

On the other hand, Tehran warned Washington that such steps are “not constructive” for ongoing nuclear talks. Speaking to reporters, Mahmoud Vaezi, the director of the president’s office, said, “It appears not constructive when talks for a deal on the nuclear issue are underway.”

Moreover, Iranian news agencies reported that websites affiliated with Yemen’s Houthi group were also seized by the US government. The announcement of the Arabic-language Masirah TV, which is run by the Houthis, also confirmed the incident.

When entering the website, an announcement appeared on screen, saying: “The domain almasirah.net has been seized by the United States Government in accordance with a seizure warrant… as part of a law enforcement action by the Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement and Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

The site came back online in a short time through a new domain address. The Houthi leader Mohammad Ali Al Houthi reacted to the US move through a statement posted on his Twitter account.

Recently, the Houthi group has claimed that they shot down two US spy drones in two days. However, no comment has been made yet by the US authorities on the issue.

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