Iranian News Websites Replaced with 'U.S. Seizure' Message

According to the Department of Justice, the sites are "used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union and Kata’ib Hizballah."
June 22, 2021, 9:18pm
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The websites for Press TV, Iran's state-run, English-language news outlet, as well as Al-Alam, another Iranian news outlet, and a number of other websites were replaced with messages that said their websites had been seized by the U.S. government Tuesday.

"This website has been seized," a notice currently on the Press TV website reads.

According to a Department of Justice press release, “the United States seized 33 websites used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU) and three websites operated by Kata’ib Hizballah (KH), in violation of U.S. sanctions.”

Do you know anything else about this alleged seizure? We’d love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, OTR chat on jfcox@jabber.ccc.de, or email joseph.cox@vice.com.

The notice adds that the domain was seized as part of a law enforcement action carried out by the Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement, and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Press TV wrote on another one of its domains that "Message on websites of Iranian, regional TVs claims ‘domain seizure by US govt.’"

"In what seems to be a coordinated action, a similar message has appeared on the websites of a series of Iranian and regional television networks that claims their domains have been 'seized by the United States Government,'" Press TV wrote. The post then pointed to a series of alternative domains users can visit to view the Press TV site; at least one of those did not work at the time of writing.

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On Twitter, journalist Laura Rozen said that State Department spokesperson Ned Price said he did not have anything to say on the alleged seizure, but said he thinks the Department of Justice may have something to provide shortly. The DOJ press release came hours after the sites had been seized.

Authorities also seized Almasirah, a Yemeni English-language news site, according to another seizure notice on that site, as well as kataibhezbollah.org, almaalomah.org, and kafmedia.net, news sites with alleged ties to Iran.

The FBI did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did the Department of Commerce.

The Associated Press reported that Iran blamed the U.S. government for the website seizures, but that U.S. officials did not acknowledge the move.

Update 6/23/201: This story has been updated with new information from the Department of Justice.

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