The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Iran’s information minister, Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi, a pressure tactic after Tehran shut down internet access to help stifle protests against fuel price hikes.
The US Treasury announced the sanctions move on its website. “Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi is a key player in the regime’s censorship and surveillance campaign, which intensified in the wake of anti-regime protests,” the US Treasury said.
Treasury designates Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology in view of the regime’s repressive internet censorship. https://t.co/i7JKF9uTTT— Treasury Department (@USTreasury) November 22, 2019
The sanctions imposed on Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi would block any of his property under US jurisdiction, the US Treasury Department said in a statement, adding that US regulations generally prohibit dealings by US persons, or those transiting the United States, in such property.
The internet blockage, which Iran said on Thursday it had begun to roll back, made it difficult for protesters to post videos on social media to generate support and also to obtain reliable reports on the extent of the unrest.
“Iran’s leaders know that a free and open internet exposes their illegitimacy, so they seek to censor internet access to quell anti-regime protests,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
“We are sanctioning Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology for restricting internet access, including to popular messaging applications that help tens of millions of Iranians stay connected to each other and the outside world,” he added.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted commenting on sanctions against Iran: “We will hold members of the Iranian regime accountable for their violent repression of the Iranian people.”
The U.S. is sanctioning the Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Mohammad Jahromi, for helping shut down the Iranian internet. We will hold members of the Iranian regime accountable for their violent repression of the Iranian people. #Internet4Iran— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 22, 2019