U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
STATEMENT BY SECRETARY ANTONY J. BLINKEN
September 18, 2023
Designating Iranian Persons Connected to Wrongful Detentions
While we celebrate the release of Emad Shargi, Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz, and two other U.S. citizens from their unjust detention in Iran, we are also taking action to hold the regime accountable for its abhorrent practice of unjustly detaining other countries’ citizens and to deter future wrongful detention by Iran and other regimes.
Pursuant to the sanctions authorities provided by the Levinson Act and Executive Order 14078, the United States is today designating Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) in connection with the MOIS’s involvement in the wrongful detention of U.S citizens and former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his support to MOIS. During Ahmadinejad’s term in office, Iran’s MOIS abducted and detained Bob Levinson with authorization by senior Iranian officials. The regime’s refusal to account for what happened to Bob caused unbearable pain and suffering to his family and those who care about him. We call on Iran to give a full accounting of what happened to Bob Levinson, from his initial captivity to his probable death.
We are also taking steps to impose visa restrictions on three Iranian government officials believed to be responsible for or complicit in serious abuses or violations of human rights, as well as hostage-taking or wrongful, arbitrary, or otherwise unjust detention of U.S. and foreign nationals pursuant to authority in Section 212 (a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). We are further announcing the designation of Iranian prison officials Ali Chaharmahali and Dariush Bakshi pursuant to Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 2023 for their involvement in gross violations of human rights, namely the cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in Iran’s prison system. These individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.
The United States has no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens. We will continue to work to bring home U.S. nationals wrongfully detained overseas and hold accountable those who are involved in the wrongful detention of U.S. nationals abroad.
The Department of State is designating MOIS for being responsible for or complicit in, to have directly or indirectly engaged in, or to be responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing the hostage-taking of a U.S. national or the wrongful detention of a U.S national abroad. The Department of the Treasury is designating Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of MOIS. Sanctions actions are being taken pursuant to E.O. 14078 “Bolstering Efforts to Bring Hostages and Wrongfully Detained U.S. Nationals Home.”
For more information on the sanctions action, see the Department of the Treasury’s press release.