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US imposes new sanctions on Iranian officials for crackdown on protests

The United States on Wednesday attacked Iranian officials, including those overseeing Evin Prison in Tehran and others, with new sanctions against Iran for internet censorship and a crackdown on protests ignited by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody.

Demonstrations following the death of the 22-year-old in custody on September 16 have become one of the most daring challenges to Iran’s spiritual leadership since the 1979 revolution.

“We will continue to find ways to support the people of Iran as they peacefully protest in defense of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, while continuing to impose charges on individuals and entities in Iran engaged in the brutal repression of the Iranian people US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

The US Treasury Department said in a separate statement it has imposed sanctions on Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officials, including the commander of its intelligence agency, as well as provincial and Iranian prison officials and people and entities tied to internet censorship.

Wednesday’s move targets Hedayat Farzadi, who is accused by the Treasury Department of operating Evin Prison as warden. The prison mainly holds political prisoners, and Washington says numerous protesters have been sent there.

Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi is being held in Evin Prison.

Seyyed Heshmatollah Hayat Al-Ghaib, the director-general of Tehran province’s prisons – who, according to the finance ministry, gave him oversight over Evin – was also named.

Also named were two members of Iran’s intelligence and security ministry, as well as the Ravin Academy they founded, which, according to the finance ministry, trains people in cybersecurity and hacking and recruits candidates for the ministry.

The Iranian company Samane Gostar Sahab Pardaz Private Ltd Co, which Washington said supplies the Iranian government with censorship, surveillance and espionage tools, was also designated.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The US action freezes all US assets belonging to the named individuals and generally prohibits Americans from doing business with them. Those who carry out certain trades with them also run the risk of being hit with sanctions.

A large number of Iranians have taken to the streets since Amini’s death, some calling for the downfall of the Islamic Republic and chanting “Death to (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei”.

At least 250 protesters, including teenage girls, have been killed and thousands have been arrested, according to human rights groups.

Authorities, who have accused the United States and other Western countries of fomenting what they call “riots,” have not yet released a death toll, but state media said about 30 members of the security forces have been killed.

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