The United States is imposing new sanctions on Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB, and on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Intelligence Organization, the IRGC-IO, for their involvement in the wrongful detention of U.S. nationals. Additionally, the Department of the Treasury is designating four senior officials of the IRGC-IO.
These are the first sanctions announced under an executive order signed by President Joe Biden last year. The purpose is to impose economic costs on governments and groups that hold hostage or wrongfully detain Americans abroad.
The sanctions mean that all the designees’ property and interests in property under U.S. control are blocked, and U.S. persons are barred from doing business with those designated.
In a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the actions “are a clear and direct warning to those around the world who wrongfully detain U.S. nationals.”
He noted that the FSB “has repeatedly been involved in the arrest, investigation, and detention of U.S. nationals wrongfully detained in Russia,” and that the IRGC-IO is involved in “the wrongful detention of at least one U.S. national abroad.”
The U.S. Department of the Treasury said in a statement that the IRGC-IO “frequently holds and interrogates detainees in the notorious Evin Prison, in addition to [its] direct role in the repression of protests and the arrest of dissidents, including dual nationals.” The four IRCG-IO senior officials involved with the detention of foreign nationals designated by the Treasury Department are Ruhollah Bazghandi, Mohammad Kazemi, Mohamad Mehdi Sayyari and Mohammad Hasan Mohagheghi.
“Russia’s and Iran’s continued pattern of wrongfully detaining U.S. nationals is unacceptable,” said Secretary of State Blinken. “The United States will never stop working to secure the release of U.S. nationals who are wrongfully detained or held hostage and reunite them with their loved ones. [These] actions are one tool furthering that cause, and we will continue to use all authorities at our disposal to bring people home.”