September 15, 2023 | Flash Brief

U.S. Sanctions 29 Iranian Targets for Human Rights Abuses

September 15, 2023 | Flash Brief

U.S. Sanctions 29 Iranian Targets for Human Rights Abuses

Latest Developments

The United States on September 15 sanctioned 29 Iranian individuals and entities responsible for human rights abuses against the Iranian people. The designations come one day before the first anniversary of Iran’s nationwide protests, which began when Tehran’s morality police murdered 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for allegedly wearing her headscarf improperly. The fresh sanctions target, among others, police officials who presided over the violent repression of demonstrations; leaders of a company that helps the regime censor the internet; and state-controlled media organizations that work with Iranian security services to suppress dissent.

Expert Analysis

“Make no mistake, designations against Press TV and other Iranian state-run media are not about the U.S. seeking to censor legitimate policy discussion. Imagine national TV stations coercing innocent political prisoners to falsely confess to manufactured crimes, and then those forced confessions are broadcast on television to instill fear in the population. These interrogators, who are often the actual reporters, beat prisoners with cables and threaten to inject them with hallucinogenic drugs. Welcome to the routine actions of the media outlets designated today. They have surely earned it.” — Toby Dershowitz, FDD Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Strategy

“While the imposition of human rights sanctions is a positive move, the administration must understand that this cannot serve as a smokescreen for its disastrous decision to release $16 billion to the regime. In addition, the administration should rigorously enforce these human rights sanctions. This includes ensuring that U.S. companies like Meta and X comply by removing the accounts of sanctioned entities such as Fars News, Tasnim News, and Press TV from their platforms, and abstaining from any financial interactions with them.” — Saeed Ghasseminejad, FDD Senior Iran and Financial Economics Advisor

Violence Against Protesters

The new sanctions target 10 leaders of Iran’s national police, formally known as the Law Enforcement Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and eight officials of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). According to FDD tracking data, those two organizations and other Iranian security forces have killed more than 600 peaceful protesters and arrested more than 22,000 since September 2022. Washington also sanctioned Gholamali Mohammadi, who heads Iran’s Prisons Organization, which is responsible for torture, including sexual violence and rape, against jailed protesters.

Still, protests have increased dramatically in recent weeks: In August 2023, 352 protests occurred, compared to 277 in July and 183 in June. In the first 14 days of September 2023, at least 144 protests took place. In total, at least 4,473 protests have occurred over the past year. Prospects for additional protests and violence on the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death remain substantial, lending special importance to the new sanctions.

Iranian State Media

The targets of sanctions included three Iranian state media outlets: Press TV, Tasnim News Agency, and Fars News Agency. These “organizations work in tandem with Iranian security and intelligence services, blurring the lines between government and media and extending the regime’s oppressive reach,” said the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In particular, Iranian state media broadcast forced confessions, identify protesters for Iranian security forces, and provide intelligence to the IRGC.

Iran’s Uprising Nears First Anniversary as Protests Persist,” FDD Flash Brief

Torture TV: The Case for Sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s State-Run Media,” by Toby Dershowitz and Talia Katz

The Case for Designating Iran’s State Media,” by Saeed Ghasseminejad and Richard Goldberg


Iran Iran Human Rights Iran Sanctions Sanctions and Illicit Finance