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US Imposes Sanctions on Iran Judges, Vows to Restrict Visas

US Imposes Sanctions on Iran Judges, Vows to Restrict Visas

Thursday, 19 December, 2019 - 18:00
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses a joint news conference with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the State Department in Washington, US, December 10, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The United States is imposing sanctions on additional senior Iranian officials for human rights abuses and will restrict visas for current or former officials who abuse or detain peaceful protests, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday.

The unrest in Iran began on Nov. 15 after the Iranian government abruptly raised fuel prices by as much as 200%. It spread to more than 100 cities and towns and turned political as young and working-class protesters demanded clerical leaders step down.

Pompeo denounced the recent violent crackdown by Iranian authorities against the widespread protests, and the Treasury Department on Thursday targeted two top Iranian judges with penalties.

Pompeo assailed Iranian officials for “hypocrisy” by depriving citizens, particularly ethnic and religious minorities of their constitutional rights.

He said he had redesignated Iran as a “country of particular concern” for religious freedom, a status that adds a layer of potential sanctions against the government. He also said the administration would enact travel bans on officials found to have violated human rights, as well as their families.

“The United States has stood, and will stand under President Trump, for the Iranian people,” Pompeo said in a speech at the State Department.

“The appeasement of the regime simply will not work.”

The sanctions announced by the Treasury Department freeze any assets the two judges may have in US jurisdictions and bar Americans from any transactions with the judges The sanctions will also affect foreigners doing business with the judges, who sit at the top of two branches of the Tehran Revolutionary Court.

“Abolghassem Salavati and Mohammad Moghisseh oversaw the Iranian regime’s miscarriage of justice in show trials in which journalists, attorneys, political activists, and members of Iran’s ethnic and religious minority groups were penalized for exercising their freedom of expression and assembly and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, lashes, and even execution,” the department said in a statement.

Salavati runs Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court. The statement said he had sentenced so many people to capital punishment that he is nicknamed the “the Judge of Death.” Moghisseh presides over Branch 28 of court, and the statement said he had sentenced numerous artists to lengthy sentences for “collusion against national security and propaganda against the state allegedly found in their artwork."

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