U.S. issues more sanctions against officials in Iran as government crackdown persists
The U.S. Treasury issued new sanctions on Thursday against seven Iranian officials it said are connected to the government's ongoing crackdown on internet availability and protests in the country.
Driving the news: The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was arrested by Iran's morality police has sparked weeks of protests across dozens of cities in Iran — the largest demonstration against the regime in years.
- Iran's government has responded to the unrest by restricting internet access, and authorities have responded with tear gas and use of force — sometimes lethal — against protesters.
Details: Two government ministers were included in the sanctions: Minister of the Interior Ahmad Vahidi and Minister of Communications Eisa Zarepour, according to a Treasury Department press release.
- Vahidi is in charge of overseeing all the country’s Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) which have been deployed to suppress protests in the country. The LEF has been responsible for “at least dozens of casualties in the recent demonstrations against the Morality Police," per the press release.
- Zarepour is responsible for the attempts to clamp down on internet access in the country.
- Also sanctioned were five senior leaders of Iran’s security apparatus, from both the LEF and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)
What they’re saying: “The rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly are vital to guaranteeing individual liberty and dignity,” said Brian Nelson, Treasury under secretary, in the press release.
- “The United States condemns the Iranian government’s Internet shutdown and continued violent suppression of peaceful protest and will not hesitate to target those who direct and support such actions.”
The big picture: The new round of sanctions comes on the heels of the U.S.' sanctions of Iran's morality police and security organization leaders last month.
Editor's note: This story was updated with details throughout.