The Guardian • Issue #1968

US seizes Iranian news websites

The United States has committed yet another act of piracy, this time digital. The US Department of Justice released a statement 22nd June announcing the seizure of thirty-six websites, mostly belonging to Iranian news agencies and those accused by the US of being Iranian proxies.

Websites affected included Iran’s Press TV and Yemen’s Al Masirah.

“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 Hezballah (KH), in violation of US sanctions.”

KH is an Iraqi militia designated by the US as a terrorist organisation. The Iraqi government does not agree, as they recognise KH as part of the Popular Mobilisation Forces allied to the Iraqi military.

“These website seizures were investigated by the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement and the FBI. The National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section prosecuted the seizure.”

The statement claims that these websites “targeted the United States with disinformation campaigns and malign influence operations.”

Bold words coming from the government that is the greatest purveyor of disinformation and malign influence – and the Middle East region is one of the most obvious examples! Anyone who believes that the US is a just arbiter of truth versus misinformation is surely blind, when they lied about Iraq, lied about Libya, are lying about Syria, support the Israeli and Saudi regimes to the hilt including their genocides in Palestine and Yemen, and – let’s not forget – spread pro-terrorist propaganda in Afghanistan, as well as military training and funding, that led to the creation of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

The greatest terrorist on Earth portraying themselves as the world leader of counterterrorism; portraying themselves as the defenders of freedom and democracy while overthrowing governments and censoring other countries’ media; who is the disinformer, the malign influencer?

If the United States wishes not to allow certain foreign media to be hosted on American servers, then, to some extent, that is their right; but they do not get to then still talk about being champions of free speech and free press. When the US government openly funds media outlets around the world that spread the most ridiculous lies – for instance Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Alhurra TV, and Radio Sawa – then they are not acting with any principles except “might is right.”

The hostile US action was facilitated by the action of the US Office of Foreign Assets Control designating IRTVU as a “Specially Designated National” in October 2020. While that took place during the Trump administration and its escalation in hostility towards Iran, the seizure of websites shows that nothing has changed with the change to the Biden administration.

Biden promised to re-enter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the “Iran Nuclear Deal”); however, he has refused to lift sanctions against Iran, which indicates this promise is entirely without substance. Biden has already carried out two rounds of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria targeted at “Iranian-backed militias.” The US is no more ready to honestly and respectfully enter into dialogue with Iran than they ever were; they simply wish to bully and intimidate.

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