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Seizure of Press TV.com outrageous attack on foreign press

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
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The US government seizure of the .com domains of 33 foreign news websites, including Press TV, is an outrageous attack against the foreign press, with US President Joe Biden using emergency powers and sanctions imposed against Iran by Trump.

The United States has launched one of the most outrageous attacks on the press and foreign media during which over two dozen news outlets, including Press TV, had their.com domains seized and were taken offline.

What do these sites have in common? Why were they targeted by the United States, and what does that say about a country that claims to champion so called democracy and freedom of the press?

They are Muslim, Arabic, Persian and form part of the Axis of Resistance and go against the US narrative, which is why they were targeted.

This brazen act of piracy and authoritarianism constitutes one of the most serious affronts to journalists and foreign media in recent times.

On June 23, 2021, the United States government seized the websites of several news broadcasters and media outlets belonging to Iran and its allies in one fell swoop.

The websites targeted included Palestine today, as well as Iran's Al-Alam, which is an Arabic language broadcaster, they included Iraq's Al Thurat and Yemen's Al Masirah, just to name a few of the 33 outlets seized by the US.

Anyone attempting to access press tv.com is now met with a message that reads, "This website has been seized", bearing the daunting seal of the US Department of Justice and Department of Commerce.

It's important to understand the US government didn't just block these news sites inside the United States, within its own borders, it blocked them worldwide for everyone, rendering them inaccessible after seizing their.com domain names.

This is reminiscent of how the US has also seized Iranian oil and sold it off like pirates or seized Venezuela's gold or seized Syria's oil fields. This is criminal behavior; it's piracy on the state level.

Now the next day a statement was released by the US Department of Justice confirming the seizure of, not just press TV's website, but a total of 33 outlets, that's 33 news sites that all have their websites taken down on the same day.

So the question here is what do all these channels have in common? They're Muslim, they're Arabic, they're Persian, they are anti imperialist and they form part of the Axis of Resistance.

In an attempt to justify this blatant act of theft and suppression of the media, Joe Biden used the United States emergency laws.

Joe Biden declared a national emergency under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act which allows him to designate an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States".

Apparently, the programs and words of Press TV are so upsetting that the US feels the need to activate its emergency laws just to silence it for speaking the truth.

What the US is doing here is outrageous. It's accusing four news outlets of being run by Iran, elite Special Forces, and then using National Emergency laws to silence them and calling that counterterrorism.

The DOJ statement refers to sanctions imposed on Iran by former US President Donald Trump in October 2020.

Those sanctions specifically target the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the IRGC, and the Islamic radios and televisions union IRTVU.

And if you look at what they say, The Office of Foreign Assets Control, OFAC, claims absurdly, and without any evidence, that these news outlets are "owned or controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds force, and also, "disguised as news organizations or media outlets, targeting the United States with disinformation campaigns and malign influence operations".

So they're making this outrageous claim that Press TV and other outlets are being run by the IRGC, and more specifically, the Quds force.

Now, as you may well know, the Quds force is an elite branch of the IRGC, it was formerly headed by General Ghassem Soleimani.

Donald Trump murdered Haj Ghassem and Abu Madi in January 2020. They were an incremental part in helping defeat al Qaeda and defeat Daesh in Syria and Iraq.

Undoubtedly the Quds force plays a crucial role in the resistance, but to claim that it's running these news outlets is absurd and akin to saying that CNN is being run by the Navy SEALs or Delta Force, it's just not true and doesn't make any sense.

Now typically all websites that end in.com are managed by an American company called VeriSign, and apparently, because these news sites did not obtain sanctions exemption, the US thinks that it has the right to just shut them down.

The United States claims jurisdiction over.com domains, and has used that claim in the past to sue people overseas. But let's be clear here, this has nothing to do with sanctions exemptions or.com domains.

First of all, the United States would not have given any such sanctions exemption in the first place, because these outlets tell the truth about the United States, Israel and Great Britain.

Second of all, if this was just about domains, why didn't the US government shut down every single domain that is even remotely connected to the IRGC or IRTVU?

They didn't, because their goal was to attack the media, and shut down outlets that they don't like. This is an attack on the press.

You can see clearly how there's practically no difference between Trump and Biden, both of them make ridiculous accusations that these outlets are somehow running disinformation campaigns and are being run by elite special forces, and then Biden goes ahead and uses sanctions that Trump created against Iran to seize the websites of Iranian broadcasters.

The allegations leveled against them by the US, that they spread disinformation, are no different from the ones that fueled the Russia gate scandal during the past four years. They're unproven.

You might recall that Trump was heavily criticized by the Democrats in the media for his "unprecedented use and abuse of emergency powers and executive orders", he even declared a national emergency so he could secure funding for his border wall.

Many, including Joe Biden, called Trump an existential threat, and have called him out for attacking the media.

All right, so where's the accountability for Biden now that he is the president, and he is abusing emergency powers to attack and silence the press?

Where are all the Biden voters, who claimed that democracy was on the ballot and that fascism had to be voted out? What would you call this, what do you call this attack on the media, how do you rationalize this behavior; accusing foreign journalists of being spies or special forces, and then taking their sites down in the name of counterterrorism?

Authoritarianism or worse

Apparently, they don't seem to care much about authoritarianism under Biden, they don't mind it at all, because when the blue fascist attacks the press it's okay for them.

Let's be clear about what this means; by shutting down Press TV the United States has decided, of its own accord, that the 1.4 billion English speaking people on the planet are no longer allowed to watch and listen to news that exposes imperialism and Zionism.

This is way more than just authoritarianism, it would already be scandalous enough if the US was blocking Press TV within its own borders, something, it was already doing in many ways, but now the US is deciding for the whole world what news they can consume and what foreign journalists can say.

And equally, by abruptly shutting down broadcasters like Al-Alam, along with others, they have created a huge vacuum in Arabic language media.

Press TV is not based in America, so what gives the United States the right to seize all its hard work, and just take it offline? What kind of behavior is that?

Now thankfully, you can still access Press TV at our alternate backup domain, presstv.ir, without which many of at Press TV would have lost all of their work.

What was your initial reaction when the result of all the work and effort that you and all our other colleagues have put in just suddenly vanished and was deleted from the internet?

Unfortunately I really wasn't surprised, because we have seen so many assaults by various Western governments against Press TV.

We have seen, years ago of course, in the early days of Press TV, we saw various satellites not allowing Press TV to be broadcast from them. We have seen, of course, like in the United States were never allowed on cable television and in more recent years we have seen the continual attacks on our social media, YouTube being blocked, so many different attacks, but this time around perhaps, I'm a little surprised if I want to say anything (it would be) that it shows how effective we have been, how threatened they are by us that they would actually seize the website.

… (in the past) the US was a little bit smoother with its censorship, with how it controls scenarios, but now we're just seeing outright attacks and they're not even trying to hide their animosity and disdain anymore, and let me say, and lack of fair play and lack of believing in free speech and freedom of the press.

Marzieh Hashemi, American Journalist, Filmmaker and Host for Press TV

As you know this is not the first time, obviously, that they've gone after Press TV and it's not just the website, it's also the social media pages, and I think you yourself have also been subjected to extremely cruel, inhumane, treatment from the US government.

Could you maybe give our audience an idea how far back this goes and why, even though we're angry, we're not surprised?

I had my own experience two years ago, being arrested in the US, and you know it's really interesting because after they arrested me they were asking questions about Press TV. It was mind boggling for me as an American citizen, in the United States, in the capital of the US, in Washington DC, that what was most important for them was why Press TV covered Israel in the way that it does ... asking several questions about, basically, why we don't show what they call the real perspective about Israel, why we have negative coverage when it comes to Israel.

What I found mind boggling about that was that they asked me more questions about Press TV's coverage of Israel than about press TV's coverage of the United States and I think that that says a lot.

Unfortunately the whole Zionist controlled media right now in the US, and I will say Zionist controlled government, and this is a big part of what is going on with us right now let me say, because I really feel that the role that we've just played, and other entities that have been seized by the United States, the role that was played in the most recent 11 day onslaught by the Israelis on the Gaza Strip.

Again, providing that alternative perspective, and of course with social media now, you know, we had people, regular people, viewers on the ground in Sheikh Jarrah, in Gaza, at al Aqsa, sending those videos and uploading it to social media.

So then they no longer can control the narrative. And that's very difficult for them because they never play fairly. They at least they will try to have that monopoly on it, and when they no longer can monopolize the narrative that's when the situation will get really sticky, and they will really play dirty, as we have seen with the seizure of our website and others.

Well of course it was not the first time, it won't be the last time, but I think it says a lot and I think really, we actually all should sort of be proud that perhaps we are more effective than even we imagined ourselves, because of course we have lots of limitations because of the overall situation and being sanctioned.

But at the same time, that they felt it was necessary to seize the website; I think that says a lot about how effective we have been. As I said earlier, it's not the first time and I don't think it would be the last time.

They will continually try to silence this resistance camp, because actually showing an alternative perspective, the real perspective with so many stories that before they had a monopoly on the narrative, so this is very difficult for them that they no longer have that monopoly.

We have seen throughout the years various ways that the mainstream media have tried to deal with that alternative perspective. And we have seen, even, of course, unfortunately sometimes in creating their own stories, their own scenario, whether we're talking about Iraq (in) 2003 leading up to that invasion by the US, or we're talking about even something like Douma Syria, and we saw the whole thing that they created news. So, yeah, this is nothing new and it's not going to stop, I'm sure.

Marzieh Hashemi, American Journalist, Filmmaker and Host for Press TV

Why now?

 Some speculate that perhaps this was in part due to the recent shift in public opinion in favour of Palestine, specifically after this onslaught against Gaza that we just saw in May, and of course Press TV played a huge role in actually reporting it accurately and truthfully.

Do you think this shift in public opinion on the Israelis, maybe played a small role, because at the same time, as you mentioned, it does go a long way back? Are you surprised by the silence in the mainstream media, even in independent media? There are a lot of these so called "lefties" who said nothing at all.

You know the unfortunate situation that we face is that the so called liberals are definitely totally silent too. When it comes to neoliberalism, because that's the sort of thing that we're talking about, and serving the 1%, when it comes to that, unfortunately, we won't see much of a difference between what is called the mainstream media and the so called liberal media, because as we know, for example, we're talking about the United States, it really doesn't matter if that there is an administration that is Democratic or Republican, basically, they're serving the same elite and the 1%.

And that's what we're looking at. On the one hand, they want to call themselves liberal and open, and woke; on the other hand they remain silent when this obvious attack on liberty takes place. The country that always talks about freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and attacks so many countries for saying that they don't have it (freedom of speech and freedom of the press), we see what they have done and what they're doing, and it is absolutely amazing, the silence that we're seeing coming from the mainstream media and (the) so called liberal media.

But again, unfortunately, we're not surprised because it's definitely not the first time that we've seen this.

Marzieh Hashemi, American Journalist, Filmmaker and Host for Press TV

We didn't just see Press TV being taken down, we also saw Al Thurat and al Masira, we saw a total of 33 channels not all of which were Iranian, some were Yemeni and some were Iraqi.

What do these outlets have in common and why were they targeted all together at once?

Of course what they have in common, they are basically anti hegemonic policies and seeing a full force attack on the Resistance Front, and that's obvious because the Resistance Front has been effective.

I think that we are seeing the United States and their Western allies, and even perhaps some of their regional allies reeling from losses.

I mean whether we're talking about, for example the Daesh project, which was a major project and it failed, for the most part, in Syria and Iraq. Why did it fail? Because of resistance, and media connected risks. For example, resistance, whether we're talking about Iraq or whether we're talking about Syria, whether we're talking about Palestine or Yemen or the Islamic Republic of Iran, standing up against these hegemonic and demonic policies that they have tried to implement.

Marzieh Hashemi, American Journalist, Filmmaker and Host for Press TV

So, again, wanting to control the narrative and no longer being able to do that. We look at what is going on in Yemen,  the amount and the type of weapons and equipment that's been sold to Saudi Arabia by the United States, by the UK, and of course there's support for the Saudi regime in their onslaught on the Yemeni people.

And yet we have seen unbelievable advances on the ground by Freedom Fighters, the Yemeni people. And, of course, being that the media connected with that, trying to show the reality.

Again, they don't want the other side, the reality of that narrative, to be shown. We have seen this a lot which is why we're going to continue to see the attacks that we have. And at the same time we're going to continue to enjoy, what we do.

Marzieh Hashemi, American Journalist, Filmmaker and Host for Press TV

The United States, a few days ago, was complaining that media outlets have been censored in Hong Kong and they point the finger at China and Russia and Iran and a host of other countries calling them authoritarian, but is what the US has done, just taking down the websites, shutting down 33 foreign news outlets, is that not an attack on the press?

Who would ever listen again to another western country lecturing about press freedoms after this?

I haven't been able to for a long time. My experience with the western press goes way back I was an American educated journalist, university in the United States. So I learned early about the techniques that they use, but let me just say, there's been a major deterioration in the United States in dealing with the press.

At one time we really did have more of an independent press, I mean, we can look at history and see, for example during the Vietnam War, one of the main catalysts for people taking to the streets in mass demonstrations and protests were the body bags, the number of body bags and coffins, that were coming back to the United States, the number of American soldiers who had been killed.

And we know that, for example in 2003 with the start of the US invasion of Iraq, that they made it illegal for journalists to take photographs, to take pictures or video and show the body bags. So I think we're seeing a very, very, different reality on the ground with journalists now.

Journalism now post 2001 is a totally different world in the world of journalism in the West. And unfortunately it has gotten so authoritarian, as far as the government itself, and is trying to control alternative narratives, so yes, we have seen definite deterioration.

And, yeah, it's like the pot calling the kettle black. So, you know they're pointing the finger at Hong Kong or China or Iran. And really it is unbelievable.

The techniques that they are using to control the narrative and I asked anyone I mean, if it was something that, for example, the opposite had happened, like in China or in Iran, that they had totally seized foreign websites and what would have been the reaction?

So, yes, we're continually seeing this hypocrisy, coming out of Washington and coming from the mainstream media.

But as I've said earlier, we will continue doing what we do and hopefully being the voice of the voiceless.

Marzieh Hashemi, American Journalist, Filmmaker and Host for Press TV

We constantly hear Britain, America and their allies whining and complaining about China, about Russia, about Iran, accusing them of being authoritarian and attacking the press.

Every day some Western reporter thinks they're very tough for yelling Navalny's name at Russian President Putin, but of course, not a word about Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks , a journalist, whose extradition hearing we covered.

They say nothing about Assange, who Trump tried, and now Biden is trying to extradite to the US, threatening him with 175 years in jail, as he's locked in a maximum security prison in London.

Just imagine for a second if Iran had gone and permanently seized the websites of Western outlets like the BBC or CNN, just imagine the outrage that would ensue.

So where is the outrage now when the United States shuts down 33 foreign news sites? Where is the outrage at this violent behavior, this criminal attack against the press? How do people just let the US get away with this outrageous behavior, silencing adversarial outlets that are not even inside the US?

Of course, the media says nothing and even many in the so called American Left independent media will say nothing, because they're afraid to defend Arabic, Persian and Muslim outlets or what Israeli media laughably calls pro Hamas outlets as if that's all they are.

These so called leftists and defenders of free speech have vanished. They have nothing to say all of a sudden about Biden using emergency laws to shut down foreign media outlets, like some dictator. When it comes to imperialism, you really get to see their true colors, you really get to see where they stand, what the US has done here against Press TV and other outlets is outrageous and despicable.

It's an attack on the press, it's an attack on foreign journalists, let's be unequivocal about that. This is extra-territorialization of US law as well as authoritarianism.

But, at the very least, it shows, it proves that our work is effective and important, and that they are afraid of us because we speak the truth.

And if they want to come and call journalists an "unusual and extraordinary threat" because we stand up for Palestinians, and we expose the true nature of America's foreign policy, then we'll take that as a badge of honor.

 


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv

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