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US ban on Iran websites

On 22nd June 2021, US Justice Department seized around 33 Iranian Government affiliated media websites. With the above, another three of the Iraqi group Kataeb Hezbollah were banned too. The sites included state owned Press TV.com, a popular English language news site. The sites were replaced with notices saying they had been ‘seized’ as a part of a law enforcement action. According to the US Department of Justice statements all these websites were in violation of the US sanctions. 

The websites were not accessible on Tuesday afternoon, with the statement on Al-Alam’s website reading: “The domain alalamtv.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 US authorities have seized the domain names. They can do this because every top-level domain is run by a national operator. Because these are based in US, they are subject to US laws. For example .com is operated by an US firm named VeriSign.

These websites are regarded to be used as a way to target US by spreading wrong information and influencing operations. These banning’s are done because these sites were owned and controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Coups which were declared as a terrorist organisation back in 2019 by the US. 

Iran’s Foreign Minister regarded this as an example of a ‘Systematic and forceful efforts to control freedom of speech and vanquish the voice of the locals’. They see this step as the violation of sovereignty and have accused them of censorship. The US-Iran relationship has gone downwards especially since President Donald Trump, the then President of US abandoned the nuclear deal. But the latest move comes after Ebrahim Raisi was elected as the President of the Islamic Republic.