US hits more Iranian officials with human rights sanctions

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Wednesday slapped sanctions on Iran’s chief prosecutor, four other Iranian officials and a company that supports the country’s security forces for their roles in an ongoing violent crackdown on antigovernment protests.

The Treasury Department announced it is targeting the Prosecutor-General of Iran, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, two senior commanders in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, and two members of the Basij, a paramilitary volunteer group that often enforces strict rules on dress and conduct.

“We denounce the Iranian regime’s intensifying use of violence against its own people who are advocating for their human rights,” Treasury said in a statement, noting that Montazeri has presided over prosecutions of protesters some of whom have been executed or condemned to death.

It identified the IRGC commanders as Hassan Hassanzadeh, the head of its forces in Tehran, and Seyed Sadegh Hosseini, who runs its Beit-al Moghadas Corps of Kurdistan province. The two Basij members are the group’s deputy coordinator, Hossein Maroufi, and Moslem Moein, its cyberspace chief, it said.

Treasury said it is also penalizing the Imen Sanat Zaman Fara Company, which produces armored vehicles and other equipment for the security forces. The sanctions freeze any assets that those targeted may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.

Iran has been rocked by protests since the Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died after being detained by the morality police. The protests have since morphed into one of the most serious challenges to the theocracy installed by the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Security forces have violently cracked down on the protests, killing more than 500 protesters and arresting over 18,000, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has been closely monitoring the unrest. More than 60 security forces have been killed, according to the group.

“The United States continues to support the people of Iran in the face of this brutal repression, and we are rallying growing international consensus to hold the regime accountable,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

“Thousands of brave Iranians have risked their lives and their liberty to protest the regime’s long record of oppression and violence,” he said. “We again call on Iran’s leadership to immediately cease its violent crackdown and to listen to its people.”

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