October 7, 2022

OFAC imposes additional sanctions in response to Iran’s violent repression of protestors and Internet shutdown

On October 6, 2022, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated 7 senior leaders in the government of Iran with connections to the shutdown of Iran’s Internet access or the violent repression of peaceful protesters following the unjust detention and death of Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran’s Morality Police.  The designees include 2 Iranian ministers – the Minister of Interior who oversees all Law Enforcement Forces (LEF), including those who have used lethal force against protestors on multiple occasions, and the Minister of Communications, responsible for the government’s attempt to block Internet access for millions of Iranians in an effort to end the protests related to Amini’s death.  The other 5 designees are senior members of security services in Iran, including the Deputy Operations Commander of the LEF and the Deputy Political Commander of the IRGC whose organizations have violently suppressed protests in Iran; an IRGC commander and head of Sarallah (the IRGC’s security apparatus) responsible for suppressing anti-government protests; the LEF police chief in Tehran who oversees the Morality Police’s hijab compliance enforcement in that city; and the head of the Iranian Cyber Police, a group responsible for monitoring Iranian Internet users, filtering websites and blocking “objectionable” content.  

The designations are imposed pursuant to Executive Order 13553, which targets serious human rights abuses by the Government of Iran, and EO 13846, which targets censorship and other activities in Iran.  Ahmad Vahidi, the current Minister of Interior, was previously designated by the United States in 2010 pursuant to EO 13382 for his involvement with Iran’s nuclear and weapons of mass destruction programs, when he served as the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qods Force, another previously designated entity.

These actions build upon OFAC sanctions imposed on September 22, 2022 on the Morality Police, its leaders and several heads of Iran’s security organizations, and the release of General License D-2 which expands the range of internet services available to the Iranian people and supports their ability to access the Internet despite efforts by Iran’s government to surveil and censor them.

As a result of these designations, all property and interests in property of today’s designees within the United States or within the possession or control of a U.S. person are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving the designated persons.  In addition, entities owned 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked, and any foreign financial institution that knowingly conducts or facilitates a significant transaction for, or on behalf of, a blocked person could be subject to US correspondent or payable-through account sanctions.

Department of Treasury press release