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The US government has announced sanctions against several Iranian officials and entities in response to what it describes as the “violent suppression” of protests triggered by the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, in Tehran’s police custody last year.
In a statement on the anniversary of Amini’s death, US Treasury official Brian Nelson denounced the actions of Iran’s ‘Morality Police’ who had arrested Amini for a dress code violation, leading to widespread protests. These sanctions, endorsed in collaboration with Western allies such as Canada and the UK, target high-ranking security personnel and state-aligned media outlets including Press TV, Fars News Agency, and the Tasnim News Agency. Additionally, a cyber-firm allegedly aiding the Iranian government in internet “censorship and filtering” faced restrictions.
Implemented on a Friday, the sanctions necessitate the freezing of the assets held in the US by the implicated firms and individuals and prohibit global financial institutions from transacting with them. Iran has pushed back on the accusations of assaulting nonviolent protesters, depicting the protests as foreign-instigated unrest.
This comes days after the Biden administration moved forward with a US-Iran prisoner swap. According to the agreement, Iran agreed to release five US citizens in return for the US unfreezing $6 billion of Iran’s funds, previously frozen in South Korea due to US sanctions, for humanitarian objectives. In addition, Iran will receive 5 Iranians currently in US custody.