Sanctioning Iranian Intelligence Affiliates for Targeting Dissidents Abroad

September 3, 2021

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Related Country: 

  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • United Arab Emirates

Iran’s attempt to kidnap a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil because she used her freedom of speech to criticize the Iranian government is unacceptable and an egregious violation of fundamental international norms.  Beyond this specific plot, the United States remains aware of ongoing Iranian interest in targeting other American citizens, including current and former U.S. officials.

As I said on July 19, we will not tolerate efforts to intimidate independent journalists or silence their voices. We will hold those responsible to account. And we will not tolerate any attacks on U.S. citizens, here or abroad.

Today, in response to this specific plot, the United States is imposing sanctions on senior Iran-based intelligence official Alireza Shahvaroghi Farahani, who led a network of affiliates, including Mahmoud Khazein, Kiya Sadeghi, and Omid Noori, tasked with planning this kidnapping on U.S. soil as well as targeting Iranian dissidents in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates.  The failed plot to kidnap a U.S.-based journalist and human rights activist resulted in a U.S. Department of Justice indictment of members of the network in July of this year.  All four individuals are being sanctioned pursuant to Executive Order 13553, for having acted for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, a U.S.-sanctioned entity.

The United States will continue to oppose and hold accountable governments that resort to transnational repression, whether to target dissidents, journalists, or opposition leaders.  These actions threaten the rules-based international order and undermine collective peace and security.