US designates 2 Iranians over human rights violations

The US has designated two Iranian officials over their “involvement in gross violations of human rights”.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the designations against Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) interrogators Ali Hemmatian and Masoud Safdari “for their involvement in gross violations of human rights, namely the torture and/or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment (CIDTP) of political prisoners and persons detained during protests in 2019 and 2020 in Iran”.

“These individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the US,” Blinken added.

“We will continue to consider all appropriate tools to impose costs on those responsible for human rights violations and abuses in Iran.

“The US will continue to support the rights of people in Iran and demand the Iranian government treat its people with respect and dignity,” the Secretary of State was further quoted as saying.

In a separate statement earlier in the day, Blinken called on the Tehran government to “provide credible answers to what happened to Bob Levinson and to immediately and safely release all US citizens who are unjustly held captive in Iran”.

Levinson went missing from Iran’s Kish Island in 2007. Media reports have said the the Central Intelligence Agency had paid him to gather intelligence inside Iran.

Iran has repeatedly denied holding him.

The designations come amid an ongoing stalemate over Washington’s return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

President Joe Biden’s administration said that if Iran returns to full compliance with the JCPOA, the US would do the same.

But Iran insisted its compliance would only take place once US sanctions were removed.

Last month, Tehran rejected an offer from the European Union to hold informal talks with European countries and the US over the nuclear issue.

In response to the US’ withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018 and the reimposition of sanctions, Iran has suspended implementing parts of its obligations under the agreement.