Updated 3:05 PM EDT, Fri September 15, 2023
The Biden administration on Friday imposed sanctions on more than two dozen Iranian individuals and entities tied to the violent suppression of protests following the death of Mahsa Amini one year ago.
The new sanctions are the latest tranche in response to Tehran’s brutal crackdown on the protestors who took to the streets in the wake of Amini’s death in the custody of Iran’s so-called morality police. The 22-year-old was allegedly arrested by the morality police – on whom the US imposed sanctions last year – for improperly wearing her hijab.
According to a news release from the US Treasury Department, Friday’s sanctions target “18 key members of the regime’s security forces, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF); the head of Iran’s Prisons Organization; three individuals and one company in connection with the regime’s systematic censorship and blocking of access to the internet; and three IRGC and regime-controlled media outlets—-Fars News, Tasnim News and Press TV—-and three senior officials.”
The US sanctions were imposed in coordination with partners including the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, the Treasury Department said.
In a separate statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the US State Department is moving “to impose visa restrictions on 13 Iranian officials and other individuals for their involvement in the detention or killing of peaceful protestors or the inhibition of their rights to freedom of expression or assembly.”
“Since Mahsa Amini’s death and the protests that followed, we have pursued visa restrictions on 40 Iranian officials and other individuals for their involvement in these acts targeting peaceful protestors,” the top US diplomat said.
President Joe Biden said in a statement Friday that he and first lady Jill “join people around the world in remembering her—and every brave Iranian citizen who has been killed, wounded or imprisoned by the Iranian regime for peacefully demanding democracy and their basic human dignity.”
“As we have seen over the last year, Mahsa’s story did not end with her brutal death. She inspired a historic movement—Woman, Life, Freedom—that has impacted Iran and influenced people across the globe who are tirelessly advocating for gender equality and respect for their human rights,” Biden said.
“In the face of continued oppression and violence, the citizens of Iran remain committed to this movement and to their fight for a free and democratic future. Iranians alone will determine the fate of their country, but, the United States remains committed to standing with them—including providing tools to support Iranians’ ability to advocate for their own future,” he said.
The new tranche of sanctions – announced on the eve of the anniversary of Amini’s death – also come as the US appears to be in the end stages of a deal with Tehran aimed at securing the release of five Americans who have been designated as wrongfully detained in Iran.
As part of the deal, $6 billion in Iranian funds that were in restricted accounts in South Korea are being transferred to restricted accounts in Qatar. Administration officials have insisted that the funding will only be able to be used for humanitarian purposes.
The deal also involves a prisoner swap component, with the US releasing five Iranian nationals in US custody in exchange for the five Americans in Iran.
A senior State Department official told CNN that there was never any consideration about holding the sanctions until after the detainee deal was finished because the administration believed it was important to commemorate the anniversary and hold Tehran accountable.