US sanctions officials, ‘interrogator’ journalists with Iran’s state broadcaster

by Anadolu Agency


The US sanctioned on Wednesday three senior officials and two “interrogator” journalists who work with Iran’s state broadcaster, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).

IRIB was sanctioned in 2013, and has been “a critical tool in the Iranian government’s mass suppression and censorship campaign against its own people,” including recent productions and broadcasts of interviews with individuals who said their relatives were not killed during ongoing mass demonstrations in Iran, but died due to unrelated causes, the Treasury Department said.

“The Iranian government’s systemic reliance on forced confessions illustrates the government’s refusal to speak truth to its citizens and the international community,” Brian Nelson, the department’s top official for financial intelligence, said in a statement.

“The United States remains committed to supporting the Iranian people as they continue their peaceful protests. We will continue to hold Iranian officials and government institutions accountable for their human rights violations and their censorship of the Iranian people.”

Those sanctioned include Ali Rezvani and Ameneh Sadat Zabihpour, whom the department labeled “interrogator-journalists.” The Treasury said the men have worked with Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to extract and broadcast forced confessions “in the style of documentaries.”

Zabihpour is the head of IRIB’s Persian-language media group, and “has a long history of direct involvement in the broadcast of coerced confessions of dual nationals, civil society activists, political prisoners, writers, and religious minorities,” the department said.

Rezvani “has also been implicated in the harassment of the family of an Iranian-American activist,” according to the Treasury. It did not specify to which activist it was referring, but last year US prosecutors charged four Iranian intelligence officers with attempting to kidnap a dissident believed to be journalist and women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad.

Three other senior IRIB officials were added to the US blacklist, including Director Peyman Jebelli, World Service head Ahmad Noroozi and programming director Yousef Pouranvari.

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