US hits Iran prison and intelligence officials with new sanctions

IRGC and prison leaders sanctioned as protests enter sixth week

A picture obtained from the Iranian Mizan News Agency on October 16, 2022 shows damage caused by a fire in the notorious Evin prison, northwest of the Iranian capital Tehran.  - At least four Iranian inmates died in a fire in Tehran's notorious Evin prison overnight, the judiciary said, further stoking tensions one month into protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini.  Gunshots and explosions were heard during the blaze from inside the complex, illuminated by flames and smothered by smoke, in video footage posted on social media channels.  (Photo by KOOSHA MAHSHID FALAHI  /  MIZAN  /  AFP)
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The US on Wednesday issued fresh sanctions on Iranian officials, including the head of Evin prison and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders over Tehran's "brutal ongoing crackdown" of protests, the Treasury announced.

In a joint statement with the Treasury Department, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted the latest tranche of sanctions were imposed 40 days after the death of Mahsa Amini, who died while in custody of Iran's "so-called morality police".

The US has blamed Iran's morality police for the death of Amini, who was taken into custody in Tehran on September 13 for wearing her headscarf too loosely. Amini, 22 years of age and of Kurdish origin, died three days later.

Earlier on Wednesday, mourners in Iran gathered near Amini's grave in defiance of the government.

"We join her family and the Iranian people for a day of mourning and reflection," Mr Blinken said in a statement.

"The United States is committed to supporting the Iranian people and ensuring that those responsible for the brutal crackdown on the ongoing nationwide protests in Iran are held accountable."

The Treasury imposed sanctions on 10 people, including two senior IRGC leaders and provincial officials from Sistan and Baluchestan province, which has seen some of the deadliest violence against protesters since demonstrations began last month.

The department cited the death of more than 80 people in Zahedan for sanctions imposed on governor Hossein Modarres Khiabani.

Two Iranian intelligence actors and two entities "involved in government efforts to disrupt digital freedom" have also been sanctioned.

Several prison officials have also been named, including the head of Tehran's notorious Evin prison, the site of a deadly fire on October 16.

Numerous protesters have been sent to Evin, where they have "been subjected to torture and other forms of physical abuse", the department said.

Companies and individuals involved in hacking and restricting internet access have also been sanctioned.

Iran has seen regular internet cuts since protests began, a common tactic deployed by Tehran to suppress dissent.

Wide internet cuts were reported in Sanandaj on Wednesday as people gathered to mark 40 days since the death of Amini.

Updated: October 26, 2022, 4:02 PM