The US Department of Justice has blocked more than 33 websites of, among others, the Iranian state media for a few hours and has taken over control.
The websites were taken offline for allegedly spreading misinformation or being associated with violent information in violation of US sanctions, the ministry said. Many of the websites were back online after a few hours with a new domain address.
These are websites used by Iran’s Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU) and three websites operated by Kataib Hezbollah. The latter is an Iraqi militia group linked to Iran and is considered a terrorist organization by the US.
The statements on the websites said they have been “confiscated by the United States government”. Reference was made to US sanctions laws, including the seal of the US Police Service FBI and the US Department of Commerce.
US prosecutors last year seized websites allegedly used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to spread disinformation aimed at audiences outside of Iran.
The move is unlikely to sit well with Iranian negotiators who are negotiating with major powers in Vienna over the nuclear deal with Iran, which has been moribund since the US left it.