Why the U.S. Government Took Down Dozens of Iranian Websites This Week

According to the Justice Department’s statement, 30 of these websites were controlled by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union, which is under the control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the powerful military force that exudes significant control over Iran’s foreign policy and economy. Others sites seized included Al-Masirah, the news service of the Iran-backed Houthi rebel movement; and Palestine Today, a pro-Hamas news outlet.

The U.S. also seized three websites linked to Kataib Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite militia group that has been blamed for attacking U.S. troops in Iraq.

The legal basis for the IRTVU seizures came from a 2018 Donald Trump executive order, which authorizes sanctions against foreign entities involved in interference in U.S. elections. The U.S. has seized Iranian sites accused of spreading disinformation before, but none as prominent as PressTV, the country’s flagship international broadcaster launched in 2007. Like its counterparts, Russia’s RT and China’s CGTN, PressTV bills itself as an alternative as an alternative to the Western-centric perspective of other global English-language news outlets. It’s also acquired a well-earned reputation for trafficking in outlandish conspiracy theories and antisemitism. PressTV has had access to its YouTube account taken away by Google several times, and its main Facebook page was temporarily deleted earlier this year.

However, while the Justice Department’s statement is a bit vague, it does not appear that this seizure was the result of any content on PressTV itself. The issue, rather, is its links to the IRTVU and the Revolutionary Guards, which were sanctioned by the Treasury Department shortly before the election last year “for attempting to influence elections in the United States.”

According to a recent National Intelligence Council report partially declassified in March, Iran “carried out an influence campaign during the 2020 US election season intended to undercut the reelection prospects of former President Trump and to further its longstanding objectives of exacerbating divisions in the US, creating confusion, and undermining the legitimacy of US elections and institutions.”

Read the complete article at: Slate

Also Read: Notices on Iran-linked websites say they have been seized by U.S.


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