U.S. Treasury blocks, seizes domains of Iranian media outlets

April 26, 2020 - 14:44

TEHRAN — The U.S. Treasury Department has blocked and seized the .com domain of the Iran newspaper and other Iranian media outlets in its latest wave of anti-Iran measures.

Mahdi Shafiei, the Iran newspaper’s managing director, said on Saturday that legal efforts were underway to take back the domain.

Shafiei said in the meantime that the newspaper’s website can be accessed via “Irannewspaper.ir”.

The newspaper’s .com domain was seized by the Treasury Department’s Florida-based “OFAC Holding”.

According to Deutsche Welle, the .com domains of some other Iranian websites including the Iran Daily, Al Vefagh, Iran Varzeshi and Iran Sepid have also been blocked and seized by the OFAC Holding.

In a statement on Sunday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry strongly denounced the U.S. Treasury’s hostile measure, describing it as a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and freedom of expression.

“The [U.S.] regime’s act of silencing the alternative media movement has reduced America to the main violator of the law-based international order,” it added.

Mohammad Marandi, a professor at the University of Tehran, criticized the “Trump regime” for silencing Iranian websites and commentators including himself.

“Western corporate/state media will be indifferent, because it's only their freedom that matters,” he said in a tweet on Saturday.

“When my FB/Insta accounts were disabled & the US State Dept banned me from AUB campus, all western media contacts stayed silent,” he added.

On Sunday, Marandi also criticized the “Obama regime”, saying, “The move to silence Iranian voices began with the Obama regime, when all Iranian/Iranian affiliated TV channels were sanctioned & blocked from communications satellites.”

“They were mostly in Persian & infinitely small in number compared to western media,” he tweeted, underlining that “Trump is just more crude”.

Back in January, the .com domain of Fars news agency went offline worldwide due to U.S. sanctions.

In a post on its Twitter account at the time, Fars said access to its .com domain had been blocked upon the U.S. Treasury’s order.

Internet users trying to access farsnews.com also found only a blank screen, along with a message stating “farsnews.com’s server IP address could not be found.”

The news agency said it had received an email from its server company, which “explicitly said that the blockage is due to an order by the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and its inclusion in the list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDN).”

However, Fars can still be accessed through its .ir domain.

U.S.-based giant tech companies such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter also have a history of targeting Iranian accounts, including those belonging to major broadcasters.

In December 2019, Google blocked access to Press TV and Hispan TV’s official YouTube accounts without any prior notice.

Since Donald Trump became the president of the United States in January 2017, Washington has ramped up anti-Iran measures. Trump adopted a “maximum pressure” policy against Iran later on, after withdrawing from the historic 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May 2018.

The U.S. government has since targeted Iranian officials and organizations with vicious sanctions.

Back in April 2019, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) was blacklisted by the U.S. as a “foreign terrorist organization”. In retaliation, the Iranian Supreme National Security Council named the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) a terrorist organization.

In June 2019, Trump announced new sanctions against Iran, targeting office of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and top commanders of the IRGC.

In July 2019, the U.S. Treasury Department said it was imposing sanctions on Zarif for acting on behalf of Ayatollah Khamenei.

MH/PA

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