The U.S. government has blocked several Iranian websites accusing them of spreading disinformation. This move comes after a hardliner Ebrahim Raisi was recently elected as the President of Iran. Earlier, the U.S. had imposed sanctions against him and had accused Raisi of human rights abuse. Although the government restricted these websites, they reappeared online within hours with an Iranian domain name.
The U.S. Justice Department said that in pursuant with court orders the United States had seized 33 websites that were used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU) and three websites that were operated by the Kata’ib Hizballah (KH) as they were “in violation of U.S. sanctions.
On Tuesday, Iranian news agency YJC, which is considered to be a semi-official one, said that the U.S. move on removing websites shows that “calls for freedom of speech are lies.”
The Justice Department said that Iranian state-owned Press TV and Al Alam, its Arabic equivalent were among the websites that were seized. However, both reappeared online in a few hours with Iranian domain names. Other websites included those of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels such as Masirah TV and TV news channels from Karbala, Iraq.
Many of the websites displayed a red and white banner in English and Arabic. It said that the domains were under criminal and intelligence investigations. This move is seen as an act of provocation by some as it comes before talks that are being held to discuss the nuclear capabilities of Iran.
Although America and Iran are not negotiating directly, talks are on between their proxies including officials from Europe, China, and Russia.
On Monday, Ned Price, a state department official told journalists that the U.S. was expecting a seventh round of talks. The sixth round of talks had concluded over the weekend. He also said that Raisi’s election would not impact the discussions.