Press TV, the international news organization and propaganda arm of the Iranian government, has had its British bank account frozen, the Times of London reported today.
The frozen account is thought to contain more than $140,000 (100,000 euros), and National Westminster Bank is expected to close it shortly.
And while National Westminster Bank said the move was a “private commercial decision over which the Government has no control,” there has been speculation by both critics and supporters of the news station that politics may have played a part in the decision.
Lauren Booth — the Israel-bashing sister-in-law of Tony Blair — has written a barely legible opinion column for Al Jazeera, blaming the freeze on Zionism, the Blair machine, and American imperialism (errors in the original):
“The freezing of Press TV Ltd business account by Nat West Bank, is a politically motivated act,” wrote Booth. “The bank accounts of those companies who bring uncomfortable truths into the public domain, can now be closed as part of a political agenda, eliciting from the USA. Supported by the Nat West and Her Majesty’s Government.”
Booth compared it to a similar incident in 2007, when National Westminster Bank shuttered the account of a Hamas-linked Palestinian “charity” called Interpal. The bank said it closed the account under pressure from the U.S. legal system.
And it’s possible that similar concerns could have prompted the bank to freeze Press TV’s account as well. Legally, the Iranian-government-funded news organization may be subject to Iranian sanctions.
“[I]t is not surprising that an international bank like Nat West has frozen the accounts of a propaganda station, funded entirely by the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is increasingly subject to international financial and trade sanctions in the European Union and the United States,” wrote Alan A. at the conservative blog Harry’s Place.
Whatever the reason for the freeze, hopefully it’ll lead to some more government scrutiny for Press TV. The fake news station not only devotes itself to publishing constant anti-American and anti-Israel propaganda; it’s also issued news reports denying the Holocaust and claiming that the Mossad helped commit the 9/11 attacks. At the very least, the government should require the station to provide a content warning informing viewers that it’s funded entirely by the Iranian government.