(Adds some online dating sites, broader details and context)
DUBAI (Reuters) – Notices appeared on a number of Iranian websites on Tuesday that the United States government had confiscated them as part of law enforcement actions.
Iranian news agencies said that the US government had seized several Iranian media websites and websites affiliated with groups affiliated with Iran, such as the Yemeni Houthi movement.
Some sites later began to appear as usual.
Al Masirah Al Arabiya TV website, which is run by the Houthis, stated the following:
“almasirah.net has been seized by the United States Government pursuant to a seizure order… as part of a law enforcement action by the Bureau of Industry and Security, the Office of Export Enforcement, and the FBI.”
The site quickly opened a new working website at www.almasirah.com.
“The US authorities have closed down the Al-Alam TV website,” the Iranian Arabic-speaking Al-Alam TV channel said on its Telegram channel.
A US Department of Justice spokesman had no immediate comment. Two US government sources indicated that the Department of Justice is preparing an announcement on the matter.
The notices surfaced days after Ebrahim Raisi, a prominent hardliner and fierce critic of the West, was elected Iran’s new president, and after envoys to Iran and six world powers, including Washington, postponed talks on reviving their shattered 2015 nuclear deal and returned to capitals for consultation. .
Notices also appeared on the websites of Iran’s English-speaking Press TV and Lualwa TV, an independent Bahraini Arabic-language channel broadcasting from Britain.
“In what appears to be a coordinated action, a similar message has appeared on the websites of Iranian and regional television networks claiming that the domains of these websites have been taken over by the US government,” Press TV said on Twitter.
Last October, US prosecutors seized a network of Internet domains they said were used in a campaign by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to spread disinformation around the world.
The US Justice Department then said it had taken control of 92 domains used by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to appear as independent media outlets targeting audiences in the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.
On Tuesday, the semi-official Iranian news agency YJC said the US move “shows that calls for freedom of expression are lies”. (Additional reporting by Naira Abdullah, Mark Hosenbuhl and The Dubai Newsroom; Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Mark Heinrich)