Lebanon's Hezbollah pro-resistance movement and Iraq's anti-terror Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq have strongly condemned the US government’s decision to seize and block dozens of website domains connected to Iranian and regional media outlets, describing the measure as a “criminal act” and a convincing proof of Washington's policy of repression.
“Hezbollah condemns in the strongest terms the seizure of a large number of free media sites by the US administration [of President Joe Biden]. The move confirms Washington’s pursuit of suppressing freedom under false allegations and lurid headlines,” Mohammad Afif, Hezbollah’s head of public relations office, said in a statement on Thursday.
He added, “Through such an outrageous move, the US administration sought to cover up truth about crimes and atrocities committed by itself and its allies against the oppressed nations of our region, especially in Palestine and Yemen, where people are subjected to the worst forms of abuse and blockade.”
“Hezbollah expresses its solidarity with these honorable sites, whose reflection of truth cannot be hidden away at all. We call for a major campaign of solidarity with these media institutions so they can continue to perform their sincere and humanitarian missions,” the statement concluded.
‘US seizure of website domains tied to resistance out of despair’
Qais Khazali, who leads the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq resistance group, also reacted to the US seizure of pro-resistance news website domains.
“Day by day, the West's hollow claims about advocating human rights and freedom of expression are becoming further exposed," he said in a statement carried by the Iraqi News Agency said, citing the removal of the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen and the Israeli regime from a list of groups violating children's rights, and the recent seizure of "the media websites that oppose American, British, Israeli, Saudi and Emirati schemes."
“This is a sufficient justification… the United States, having failed in its military plans, desperately opted to seize websites whose sole weapons are words and ideas,” Khazali continued.
“The seizure shows its defeat in the field of media war. The pro-resistance media outlets exposed Washington's hideous nature and its conspiracies,” he pointed out.
On Tuesday, the US seized the websites of Press TV and al-Alam, Iran’s English-language and Arabic-language newscasters, as well as al-Masirah TV of Yemen.
Other web domains, including Palestine al-Youm, a Palestinian-directed broadcaster, Karbala TV – the official television of the Imam Hussein (PBUH) shrine in the holy Iraqi city of Karbala, Iraqi Afaq TV, Asia TV and al-Naeem TV satellite television channels, as well as Nabaa TV which reports the latest stories about Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries, were also seized.
Bahrain’s LuaLua TV, a channel run by opposition groups with offices in London and Beirut, was also closed, according to AFP.
Press TV website was back online within hours with the new .ir domain address. Al-Alam TV also quickly announced that its website will be available on .ir domain.
Al-Masirah TV established a new website, using its name but swapping the .net domain for .com.
The US Justice Department said Wednesday it had seized 33 media websites used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU), as well as three of the Iraqi anti-terror Kata’ib Hezbollah group, which it said were hosted on US-owned domains in violation of sanctions.
Over the past years, the United States has for several times taken similar measures against Iranian media outlets.
The US tech giant Google has recurrently taken on Press TV more than any other Iranian outlet given the expanse of its viewership and readership.
In March, Google for the seventh time blocked the English-language news network’s access to its official YouTube account without any prior notice, citing “violations of community guidelines.”
The US-based social media giant Facebook also informed Press TV in the same month that its account had been shut down for what it claimed to be the Iranian news channel’s failure to “follow our Community Standards.” The page was reinstated a few days later.
The Tehran-based network has also fallen victim to censorship on Twitter and Instagram.