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April 24, 2023 2:17 pm

US Sanctions Iranian Police, Cybersecurity Leaders


avatar by Andrew Bernard

A police motorcycle burns during protests in the Iranian capital Tehran. Photo: Reuters/File

The US Treasury department on Monday announced the designation of five senior Iranian officials responsible for the violent suppression of Iran’s Woman, Life, Freedom protest movement. The sanctions were coordinated with the United Kingdom.

“The Iranian people deserve freedom of expression without the threat of violent retaliation and censorship from those in power,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “Along with our key allies and partners, such as the United Kingdom, the United States will continue to take action against those responsible for the regime’s violent repression and censorship.”

The five sanctioned officials include three Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officers, the leader of Tehran’s Law Enforcement Forces, and the new Secretary of Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace, responsible for blocking Iranian access to international media outlets and for spying on journalists and dissidents. 

The officials are responsible for the deaths of “dozens” of protesters according to the Treasury department.

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In a separate action on Monday the European Union announced that it was sanctioning eight Iranian officials, including Iranian members of parliament and IRGC members.

“The EU calls on Iran to end the practice of imposing and carrying out death sentences against protesters, reverse the death penalty sentences pronounced, as well as provide due process to all detainees,” the EU statement said. “The EU also calls upon Iran to end the distressing practice of detaining foreign civilians with a view to making political gains.”

The US, UK, EU and other partners have increasingly coordinated sanctions actions in recent months over Iran’s assistance to Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, including the delivery of drones, as well as for Iran’s violent suppression of the Woman, Life, Freedom protests.

After months of unprecedented displays of public protest and outrage following the death of Mahsa Amini in regime custody, those protests have quieted recently in the face of a bloody crackdown by Iranian regime forces that has left nearly 500 people dead and more than 100 facing execution.

The US has responded with 11 rounds of sanctions on Iranian officials, and has cited the protests and the Islamic Republic’s crackdown as one of the reasons why a return to the Iran nuclear deal is “not on the agenda.” 

In February, the IAEA detected 84% enriched uranium at Iran’s Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant – just shy of the 90% enrichment required for the weapons-grade uranium used in nuclear weapons.

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