by Nick from the Peace Collective at CODEPINK
On June 22nd, the US federal government seized some 36 news outlets, 33 of which were based in Iran, citing “disinformation campaigns and malign influence operations” as justification in their official statement. This comes at a time when Iran and the US have been in the middle of negotiating a restoration of the 2015 nuclear deal, and is unlikely to aid in tensions between the two nations.
Of note among the news outlets censored was PressTV, an English-language news outlet owned by the Iranian state itself. PressTV has remained critical of US sanctions on Iran, as well as interventionism from the US and UK alike. PressTV has also posed itself as a staunch critic of Israel's continued occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people, and has posited that its support of Palestine may be the root of the US's effort to silence them. The news outlet also made note that many citizens within the US have taken to the streets in recent months to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Mahmoud Vaezi, Iran's current Chief of Staff, denounced the action as “a terrorist operation against the global public opinion” and “an example of banditry and media dictatorship”.
Due to the wide scope of news outlets seized by the US, and the plethora of articles published across these outlets each day, it is difficult to discern what exactly the US had identified as “disinformation”. Since the US's interventionist wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan, which have resulted in an estimated 335,000 civilian casualties, were begun with fictitious allusions to “weapons of mass destruction”, a deliberately vague term which has hitherto remained unvalidated, it is uncertain that the US federal government should get to be arbiter of what does or does not qualify as “disinformation”.
Currently, PressTV is back up and running, now on an Iranian server.