The U.S. government seized several domains linked to Iran, The Associated Press (AP) reported Tuesday.
The seizures were part of an attempt to fight alleged Iranian disinformation, an unnamed U.S. official told The AP. The official reportedly said authorities have blocked around three dozen websites. Most of these websites are tied to Tehran’s alleged disinformation efforts, the official reportedly said. (RELATED: ‘Enemies Of The People’: Iran Allegedly Behind Website Inciting Violence Against US Officials Who Refuted Trump’s Election Fraud Claims)
The websites reportedly blocked include “Press TV, Al-Masirah, Al-Alam & Al-Maalomah,” semi-official Fars News reported.
Press TV is an international news and documentary network of the state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). The network, which broadcasts in English and French, has been accused of propagating Iranian propaganda and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories by the Anti-Defamation League.
Writing in a Twitter post on Tuesday, Press TV claimed that the blocking of the web pages “seems to be a co-ordinated action.”
In what seems to be a coordinated action, a similar message appears on the websites of Iranian and regional television networks that claims the domains of the websites have been “seized by the United States Government.” pic.twitter.com/JloU56LvpL
— Press TV (@PressTV) June 22, 2021
Press TV’s sister news channel, Arabic network Al-Alam, was also allegedly blocked. Like Press TV, Al-Alam is run by IRIB — the sole entity legally allowed to transmit radio and television broadcasts in Iran.
Accessing any of the blocked websites yields a message: “The domain [domain name] has been seized by the United States Government in accordance with a seizure warrant pursuant to 18 U.S.C. … as part of a law enforcement action by the Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement and Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Besides the Iranian websites, authorities also reportedly seized the domains of Houthi-run Al-Masirah and allegedly pro-Hamas and pro-Islamic Jihad Palestine Today. Iran supports the Houthis and Hamas financially and militarily.
A majority of the seized domains ended with “.net,” “.com,” and “.tv,” according to The AP. The “.com” and “.net” are generic domain names, whereas the Pacific island country Tuvalu owns the “.tv” domain name, though U.S.-based company Verisign administers it.
Tuesday’s website take-downs were not the first American attempt to block sites tied to Iran.
The Department of Justice in October 2020 blocked around a hundred websites tied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, stating that “[w]e will continue to use all of our tools to stop the Iranian Government from misusing U.S. companies and social media to spread propaganda covertly, to attempt to influence the American public secretly, and to sow discord.”