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March 10, 2021 6:03 pm

Leading US Jewish Group Applauds Sanctions Against IRGC Interrogators, Announced on Anniversary of Levinson Kidnapping

avatar by Yoni Wilkenfeld

The US State Department building in Washington, DC. Photo: Reuters / Joshua Roberts.

The heads of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations praised the Biden Administration’s announcement Tuesday of sanctions against two interrogators from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, made on the 14th anniversary of Iran’s kidnapping of former FBI agent Robert Levinson.

“We commend the Biden Administration for its appropriate action in sanctioning two officials of the Iranian regime, Ali Hemmatian and Masoud Safdari, barring them and their families from entering the United States,” said Conference Chairman Arthur Stark, CEO William Daroff and Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein, in a statement Wednesday.

“These men are members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a designated terrorist organization, who engaged in the torture of Iranian citizens during the 2019-2020 protests against the extremist regime. Iran’s vicious crackdown against the protests resulted in the murder of hundreds of its own people, and the violent repression of countless more,” they said.

The two men and their families are now ineligible for entry into the US, in a move that a State Department spokesman said was meant to hold Iran accountable for its human rights abuses, even as the Biden administration attempts to make progress with Tehran over a return to the 2015 nuclear deal.

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The sanctions announcement coincided with the 14th anniversary of the disappearance of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent abducted by Iran and who is believed by family members and US officials to have died in their custody.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had spoken with the Levinson family, and called on the Iranian government to “provide credible answers to what happened to Bob Levinson and to immediately and safely release all US citizens who are unjustly held captive in Iran.”

“The abhorrent act of unjust detentions for political gain must cease immediately,” he continued, one day before what would have been Levinson’s 73rd birthday.  “Since his abduction in 2007, Bob, a father and husband, has missed graduations, marriages, and the birth of all but one of his grandchildren. Bob’s family continues to advocate for the answers about what happened after he went to Kish Island in Iran 14 years ago.”

“The United States will never forget Bob Levinson,” he said.

In December, the US blacklisted two other Iranian officials accused of participating in the abduction of Levinson.

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