Websites of Iran's state-owned international broadcasters Press TV and Al-Alam have been "seized," with speculation that it's done by the US government.
Visitors to the two websites, as well as Houthi-run Al Masirah, were on Tuesday greeted by a blue and red screen with a message that they had been "seized" under US laws dealing with civil and criminal forfeiture of properties perceived as a threat.
"The domain presstv.com has been seized by the United States Government in accordance with a seizure warrant issued pursuant to 18 USC 981, 982 and 50 USC 1701-1705 as part of a law enforcement action by the Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement and Federal Bureau of Investigation," the message on PressTV website reads.
The same message also reads on websites of Al-Alam and Al-Masirah, both 24-hour Arabic language news channels.
Some employees at Press TV in Tehran told Anadolu Agency that the issue was reported at around 9 p.m. local time (1630GMT) on Tuesday and was immediately seen as a "hacking attempt."
In a tweet later, Press TV said it appeared to be a "coordinated action" aimed at Iranian media, with fingers pointing to the US Department of Justice.
Iranian state and semi-state media outlets in their reports termed it a "flagrant violation of the freedom of the press."
Reports said the US Department of Justice was "preparing a detailed statement" on the action.
The US Department of Justice had earlier on Tuesday shut down some Iraqi news websites, too, affiliated with militia groups in the country.
Launched in 2007, Press TV is the only international English-language service of Iran's state broadcaster IRIB, while Al-Alam as the Arabic-language service operating since 2003.
Both are targeted at foreign audiences. While Press TV caters to the audience in the West, Al-Alam caters to the audience in the Middle East and the wider Arab region.
Interestingly, it comes a day after Press TV, citing "informed sources," said it has learned that the US is "still refusing to remove anti-Iran sanctions and honor the commitments required for its return to the 2015 nuclear deal," after six marathon rounds of talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the deal.
It quoted sources close to the Vienna talks as saying that US President Joe Biden was "sticking to his predecessor Donald Trump’s 'maximum pressure' campaign against Iran."
Press TV's disclosure is in contrast with the official version of Iranian government officials, including incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, who has cited "progress" in talks and hoped that sanctions would be "lifted soon."
It also comes a day after Iran's President-elect Ebrahim Raeisi urged the US to lift all sanctions on Tehran and rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal while doing some tough talk.
Raeisi also said the Iranian ballistic missile program was “not up for negotiation.”Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.