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US cannot tolerate voice of independent media outlets, freedom of press 'just a claim': Jebelli

Peyman Jebelli, the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB)

Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Peyman Jebelli has reacted to the latest US sanctions against three Iranian media outlets, including Press TV, saying Washington cannot tolerate the voice of independent media. 

Jebelli made the remarks in an interview with Tasnim news agency on Tuesday, after US Treasury Department imposed a fresh round of sanctions on more than two dozen Iranian individuals and entities over a groundless accusation of “human rights abuse” on the eve of the anniversary of Western-backed riots in the Islamic Republic.

He went on to say that sanctioning independent media by the West is not a new issue, adding that there has been a type of “international media dictatorship” in recent years that does not tolerate media with a voice different from that of the mainstream media and tries to restrict them in any way possible.

Jebelli also noted that what is taught about freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Western universities is nothing more than a claim.

“No matter how weak independent media and those with a different voice in the world are in terms of the possibilities to reach the audience, but in the end they leave their own impact on public opinion,” he said.

Jebelli further hailed these media for being able to open a path in the international arena where they can make their voice heard and be influential.

On Friday, the United States targeted 29 individuals and entities in connection with what it claimed was “violent suppression of nationwide protests” following the death of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian woman who died in hospital three days after being arrested by police last September. 

The sanctions were levied against 18 top members of Iran’s security forces, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and the police as well as the head of the Iranian Prisons' Organization. The bans were also imposed on three individuals and one company in connection with Iran’s telecoms ministry.

The Tehran-based Press TV news channel and the two media outlets of Fars News and Tasnim and three of their senior officials were also targeted with sanctions.

The latest sanctions are the US Treasury’s 13th round of designations in connection with the foreign-backed riots that began last September.

The fresh US sanctions came two days after the Australian government imposed bans on a number of Iranian individuals and entities, including Press TV, in yet another attack spearheaded by the West against freedom of speech in Iran.

Also on Friday, the European Union added four Iranian officials and six entities to its sanctions list to mark the riot's anniversary.

The 27-nation bloc has already imposed visa bans and asset freezes on around 170 Iranian individuals, companies and agencies over the accusations of “rights abuse.”

The British government also on Friday added five designations to its Iran sanctions list, targeting four individuals and one commercial entity over what it claimed were “human rights” violations.

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