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Iran slams US seizure of its websites as ‘disgraceful’ breach of freedom of speech

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh

Tehran has censured a US move to seize website domains of a number of Iranian television networks as being part of a systematic attempt to target freedom of expression and silence independent voices.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh described the move as a "systematic attempt by the United States to undermine freedom of expression on a global level and to silence independent voices in media."

He blasted as “disgraceful” Washington’s policy of double standards and regretted that the “current US administration has exactly followed the path of the previous administration, which will only lead to a double defeat for Washington.”

Khatibzadeh said that Iran will pursue the “illegal and bullying” measure through legal channels.

This came after a message appeared on the websites of a series of Iranian and regional television networks that claimed their domains had been “seized by the United States Government,” accompanied by the seals of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Commerce Department

The notice, which appeared late Tuesday on the websites of English-language TV news network Press TV and a number of other Iranian and regional news channels, cited US sanctions laws as the reason for the seizure.

The websites of Iran's Arabic-language Al Alam television news network, Yemen’s al-Masirah TV channel and Bahrain's Lualua television network were also among the targeted outlets.

Separately, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) condemned the move against its websites and the media of the resistance front as a “gross violation” of freedom of expression.

In a statement on Wednesday, the IRIB said it “strongly condemns the US action to block the Internet domains of the official media of the Islamic Republic of Iran and some other media outlets of the resistance front as a gross violation of freedom of expression and an attack on free and independent media.”

The statement said the US measure was carried out under “unrealistic, irrational and false excuses,” and “indicates the arrogant nature of Washington and its blatant violation of and deliberate disregard for international rules and the international system.”

It added that it was not the first time that such media came under attack as over the past two years, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube have also blocked the accounts of resistance networks “under false pretexts and in violation of international protocols and laws in the field of freedom of expression,” and have imposed severe restrictions on resistance networks in cyberspace.

By mobilizing all its technical and legal potential against this despicable move of the United States, the IRIB has provided new addresses for its targeted websites on the .ir domain to prevent the audience from losing access to domains that Washington has forcibly seized and to prevent the United States from obstructing free access to information, it said.

It also said that it will pursue the realization of the rights of the country’s national media, which represent the great nation of Iran, through legal channels and competent national and international authorities.   

IRIB World Service chief: Voice of truth can never be silenced

Meanwhile, Peyman Jebelli, chief of the IRIB's World Service, also reacted to the seizure, saying the US measure was not far from expectation following the resistance front’s recent victory in 'Operation al-Quds Sword​' against Israel.

“After the victory of the Palestinian resistance over the Zionist regime in 'Operation al-Quds Sword’, we expected to be subjected to restrictions,” he told al-Alam.

He hailed the media supporting the resistance front for playing a major role in the failure of US policies in the region. “What is important to the United States is to silence the voice of the resistance. All media promoting resistance in any language were able to expose the conspiracies of the American-Zionist axis in the region and the world.”

The official highlighted that such measures will be of no avail as “the impact of our media content on the world and Islamic public opinion is much greater than that of the enemy media.”

“The voice of truth can never be silenced,” he stressed.

The US Justice Department confirmed Tuesday evening the United States government had seized dozens of US website domains connected to Iran due to what it called disinformation efforts.

It said in its statement, "Today, pursuant to court orders, 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 US sanctions."

Over the past years, the United States has for several times taken similar measures against Iranian media outlets.

Iran has lambasted the moves as a violation of international law and freedom of expression.


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