US government blocks Iran-affiliated news websites

Website screenshot that says the site has been seized

The US has taken down dozens of Iranian and Iran-linked news sites, which it accused of spreading disinformation.

Many sites were offline on Tuesday, with notices explaining they have been “seized” by the US – alongside seals of the FBI and Department of Commerce.

They include Iran’s state-owned Press TV and al-Masirah TV, run by Yemen’s Iran-aligned rebel Houthi movement.

It comes amid heightened tensions between the US and Iran over reinitialising a nuclear deal.

The US Department of Justice said the US had seized 33 websites run by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU) and another three run by the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia in Iraq, Reuters news agency reported.

The Justice Department said the domains used by IRTVU were owned by a US company and IRTVU had not obtained a license from the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control prior to using them. Kataib Hezbollah – which has been designated a terrorist organisation by the US – also did not obtain a license.

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The websites were not accessible on Tuesday afternoon, with the statement on Al-Alam’s website reading: “The domain has been seized by the United States Government in accordance with a seizure warrant… as part of a law enforcement action by the Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement and Federal Bureau of Investigation.”