Iran says state-linked sites seized by US, reasons unclear

US seizes Iranian websites

Iran said Tuesday that several state-linked news websites have been seized by the U.S. government under unclear circumstances.

While there was no immediate acknowledgement of the seizures from American authorities, they come amid the wider heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran over Tehran's now-tattered nuclear deal with world powers.

The Islamic Republic’s president-elect, judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, staked out a hard-line position Monday in his first news conference since his election victory. He said he would would not meet with President Joe Biden and ruled out any further negotiations with the West over Tehran’s ballistic missile program and support for regional militias.

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency identified a series of websites taken offline, saying they were seized by the Department of Justice.

The Iranian state-linked websites that abruptly went offline with what appeared to be U.S. seizure notices include state television's English-language arm Press TV, as well as the Yemeni Houthi rebels’ Al-Masirah satellite news channel and Iranian state TV’s Arabic-language channel, Al-Alam.

The site for the Houthi-run Al-Masirah satellite news channel acknowledged its website's seizure by the FBI. In a statement, the group said the site’s closure had come without prior notice but that the channel would continue in its mission of “confronting the American and Israeli acts of piracy against our nation, by any means.”

The notice said the websites were seized “as part of law enforcement action” by the Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Marzieh Hashemi, a prominent American-born anchorwoman for Press TV, told The Associated Press that the channel was aware of the seizure but had no further information.

“We are just trying to figure out what this means,” she said.

Press TV, launched in June 2007, is the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting's English-language service. There are no private television or radio stations in Iran. Satellite dishes, while widespread, also are illegal. That leaves IRIB with a monopoly on domestic airwaves.

While airing in Iran, Press TV focuses predominantly on international affairs through the lens of how leaders in the Islamic Republic see the world. Fierce criticism of British and American foreign policy is common. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, IRIB has been in the hands of hard-liners who back Iran’s government.

Its broadcasts have drawn fierce Western criticism, including allegations of anti-Semitism.

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