US Treasury Dept. sanctions Iran's Information minister over internet restrictions

Washington D.C. [USA], Nov 22 (ANI): The United States Treasury Department on Friday imposed sanctions on Iran's Information Minister Mohammad-Javad Asari Jahromi for his role in the Iranian regime's wide-scale internet censorship.

Internet access in Iran, managed by Jahromi's ministry, was blocked for several days in November based upon what Iranian authorities described as national security concerns in the wake of anti-regime protests throughout the country.

The recent blocking of the Internet follows a pattern similar to the one in 2017 and 2018. Jahromi, who is a former employee of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence, has advanced the Iranian regime's policy of repressive internet censorship since he took office in mid-2017 and has also been involved in surveillance against opposition activists.

"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.

The Department also said that Jahromi's ministry has "worked to block access to online censorship circumvention tools", also referred to as anti-filtering tools, such as virtual private networks.

"Jahromi played a role in launching Iran's National Information Network (NIN), which has enhanced the Iranian government's ability to monitor, restrict, and completely block internet usage in Iran," it read.

The sanctions will now block all properties and interests in property of this person that are in the United States or in the possession or control of any US persons or place it under the seizure of Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The OFAC's regulations generally prohibit all dealings by US persons or within (or transiting) the country that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons. (ANI)