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US imposes fresh sanctions on Iran under pretext of 'censorship' accusations

A view shows a bronze seal beside a door at the US Treasury building in Washington, DC, January 20, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

The United States has announced new sanctions against Iran, targeting tech firms and two of their senior employees for their alleged role in "censorship or other activities" on the Internet.

The US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said on Friday that it slapped sanctions on Iran-based technology company Arvan Cloud, its co-founders, and their affiliated company in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 

The OFAC named the two individuals as the CEO of Arvan Cloud, Pouya Pirhosseinloo, and Farhad Fatemi, the company’s tech lead and senior site reliability engineer. The Treasury also sanctioned ArvanCloud Global Technologies L.L.C., an affiliate company based in the UAE.

The fresh embargos come in continuation of the US's sanction policy against Iran as Tehran says Washington is "addicted" to imposing sanctions. Various Iranian institutes and individuals have been targeted by sanctions since the victory of the Islamic Revolution 44 years ago under various pretexts.

In a statement following the new announcement, US Treasury's under-secretary, Brian E. Nelson accused Tehran of undermining "freedom of expression".

The Treasury accused Arvan Cloud company of having close ties with Iran’s intelligence services, helping the government allegedly control and monitor the Internet.

The allegations come as a report shows the US government is bending the rules in its favor to suppress narratives that it does not like.

On Thursday, the Treasury targeted two senior officials of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Intelligence Organization as well as three individuals based in Iran and Turkey, and a Turkish company, claiming they were all linked to the elite Iranian military corps.

The Treasury’s Thursday sanctions had targeted IRGC’s Intelligence Organization's head, Reza Seraj and Rouhallah Bazghandi, the former head of the Counter-Espionage Department of IRGC’s Intelligence Organization.

The IRGC, which is a vital part of the Iranian military, has been sanctioned in its entirety by the US.


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