HEADLINES:

US imposes sanctions on Iran's information minister

Javad Azari Jahromi. Photographer: Fatemeh Bahrami/Getty Images (Bloomberg)
2019-11-22

517 View

+ -

SULAIMANI — The United States imposed sanctions on Iran’s information minister on Friday (November 22) for his role in “widescale internet censorship,” a reference to a five-day-long nationwide shutdown meant to help stifle protests against fuel price hikes in Iran.

The sanctions imposed on Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi would block any of his property under US jurisdiction, the US Treasury Department said in a statement, adding that US regulations generally prohibit dealings by US persons, or those transiting the United States, in such property.

The internet blockage, which Iran said on Thursday it had begun to roll back, made it difficult for protesters to post videos on social media to generate support and also to obtain reliable reports on the extent of the unrest.

“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.

Shortly after the protests began on November 15, the Iranian government cut off internet across the country in an attempt to limit publicity. The internet blockage made it difficult for protesters to post videos on social media to generate support or obtain reliable reports about the extent of the unrest.

On Thursday, Iran began restoring internet access in the capital Tehran and a number of provinces, after a days-long nationwide shutdown meant to help stifle unrest over fuel price hikes.

(NRT Digital Media/Reuters)