Middle east

Adviser to Press TV President: US Has Turned Into Biggest Enemy of Freedom of Speech & Expression

The US DoJ’s decision to take down Iran’s Press TV website is yet more proof that Washington is not seeking peace in the region but instead opting to suppress of freedom of speech and expression, according to Dr Ahmad Ali-Akbari, director of the training and international relations, and a senior advisor to the president of Press TV.

On 22 June, the US Justice Department seized 33 websites linked to Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU) and three websites used by Iraqi Shia paramilitary group Kata’ib Hizballah (KH) over allegedly waging “disinformation campaigns” and “malign influence operations.”

Press TV, an Iranian state-owned news and documentary network, as well as al-Alam, an Arabic news channel broadcasting from the Islamic Republic, were among those blocked by the US authorities. Having migrated to Iranian domain addresses the media outlets were back online within hours.

US & Its Allies Routinely Attack Press TV

“It is an undeniable fact that the US move to seize Press TV’s dot com domain is an act of limiting freedom of speech, which clearly demonstrates Washington’s call for freedom of speech is a tissue of lies,” says Dr Ahmad Ali-Akbari, director of the training and international relations, and a senior advisor to the president of Press TV. “It shows that the US has turned into the biggest enemy of freedom of expression, and possibly the biggest violator of human rights.”

Meanwhile, this is not the first time that the US has targeted Press TV, he notes, referring to Washington’s repeated attacks against the medium including Big Tech’s attempts to censor and silence it. Ali-Akbari recalled that previously American tech giant Google terminated the network’s YouTube channel, while Facebook temporarily took down the Press TV account with millions of subscribers.

​Washington’s measures against Iranian broadcaster Press TV are not limited to cracking down on its online platforms, according to the media professional.

“The world witnessed how the US controversially arrested, imprisoned, and harassed in jail Press TV’s senior journalist and news anchor Marzieh Hashemi as a ‘material witness’,” Ali-Akbari says.

Hashemi, an Iranian journalist born in the US as Melanie Franklin, was arrested by the FBI on 15 January 2019 in the St. Louis, Missouri international airport. She was held in detention for ten days without being charged for any crime as a “material witness” for a federal investigation. Speaking to The Guardian about her 10-day detention, Hashemi later complained that she had been mistreated with her human rights and religious freedoms having been abused.

Following Hashemi’s arrest, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif issued a strongly-worded statement urging Washington to release the journalist.

“The misbehaviour of the US government indicates that the US does not abide by any principles protecting rights of those criticising the system and is now turned to a dangerous country for reporters,” Zarif underscored.

The US’ European allies also incessantly attempt to hamper Press TV’s mission “of serving as the voice of the voiceless,” continues Ali-Akbari. Therefore, European authorities took down the channel from their satellites, including SES Astra and Eutelsat satellite fleets, or banned it locally, as it was in the case with the British media regulator OFCOM, according to him.

“However, it is not surprising that Press TV’s orthodoxy by providing an alternative to the so-called truth promoted by the Western mainstream media is challenged by the US,” the adviser said. “After the September 11 attacks, Washington divided the media into two camps: the media that are pro-Western policies fall into one group, and the independent media from the rest of the world — which fall into the other — are all encountered by the US. This is why we see today that independent media from around the globe are more or less encountered by the US.”

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