Washington labeled senior staffers at an Iranian news outlet “interrogator journalists”
The United States has slapped sanctions on several top employees at an Iranian state-owned media outlet, claiming they helped to broadcast “forced confessions” from suspects accused of various crimes by local authorities.
The US Treasury Department announced the new penalties on Wednesday, designating six senior figures at the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) corporation, which it deemed “a critical tool in the Iranian government’s mass suppression and censorship campaign against its own people.”
“IRIB has produced and recently broadcast televised interviews of individuals being forced to confess that their relatives were not killed by Iranian authorities during nationwide protests but died due to accidental, unrelated causes,” the department said, alleging the outlet had previously “broadcast hundreds of forced confessions of Iranian, dual national and international detainees.”
The sanctions targeted IRIB director Peyman Jebelli – who was directly appointed by Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – the agency’s deputy head Mohsen Bormahani, IRIB World Service chief Ahmad Noroozi and Yousef Pouranvari, director of programs and scheduling.
Reporters Ali Rezvani and Ameneh Sadat Zabihpour were also blacklisted, with the Treasury calling them “interrogator-journalists” who allegedly cooperated with the security forces “in extracting and airing forced confessions in the style of documentaries.”
Under the penalties, all US-based property and assets held by the designated individuals will be frozen, while transactions between Americans and any company or entity owned by the people in question are prohibited.
Iran has faced a series of mass protests in recent months over the death of a young woman in police custody, who had been accused of wearing an improper head covering. Western powers have accused Tehran of violent crackdowns on the demonstrations and imposed a raft of new sanctions, with Britain and the European Union among the latest to bring additional penalties earlier this week. Iran denounced the European sanctions as “baseless” and “illegal,” and vowed to take “effective countermeasures.”
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