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U.S. Issues Fresh Iran Sanctions, Targets Evin Prison

While covering their faces, Iranian youth who had been arrested in recent student protests, sit in a hallway of the Evin prison, in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, June 15, 2003. (AP Photo)

The U.S. Treasury has imposed sanctions on six Iranians and three Iran-based entities, including the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, for human rights abuses and other ill-treatment of Iranian citizens.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on May 30 said that along with the prison, sanctions were imposed against the Ansar-e Hezbollah organization and the Hanista Programing Group.

"Today’s actions target the Iranian regime’s repression of its own people and the suppression of their freedoms of speech, expression, and peaceful assembly," the Treasury said.

Under OFAC regulations, sanctions generally make it more difficult for a person or organization to interact with U.S. and foreign financial institutions.

The Treasury had previously sanctioned the Tehran Prisons Organization and a top official in connection with "serious human rights abuses" in Iran, including at its Evin Prison.

In its latest statement, the Treasury said "prisoners held at Evin Prison are subject to brutal tactics inflicted by prison authorities, including sexual assaults, physical assaults, and electric shock."

At least three of the individuals facing the new sanctions were listed as having links to Hezbollah, also identified as Ansar-I Hizbullah and Supporters of the Party of God, "for its role in serious human rights abuses in Iran." "Ansar-e Hizballah has been involved in the violent suppression of Iranian citizens and has collaborated with the Basij [paramilitary force] to violently attack Iranian students with knives, tear gas, and electric batons," it said.

It also linked the group to "acid attacks" against women in the city of Isfahan. Abdolhamid Mohtasham, a founding member and key leader of the group, was also sanctioned, the Treasury said.

The statement said Hanista Programing Group was responsible for "the operation of, information and communications technology that facilitates computer or network disruption, monitoring, or tracking that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the government of Iran."

The latest move comes some three weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and vowed to reinstitute tough sanctions against Iran.

On May 24, the Treasury said it was imposing sanctions on nine Iranian individuals and entities for helping to supply export-controlled parts and services to sanctioned Iranian airlines.

Two days before that, the Treasury announced sanctions targeting Iranian officials associated with the hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force and Iran’s ballistic-missile programs.