US announces sanctions against Iran for attempted election interference

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A staff removes the Iranian flag from the stage after a group picture with foreign ministers and representatives of Unites States, Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union during the Iran nuclear talks at Austria International Centre in Vienna, Austria on July 14, 2015. Major powers clinched a historic deal aimed at ensuring Iran does not obtain the nuclear bomb, opening up Tehran’s stricken economy and potentially ending decades of bad blood with the West. AFP PHOTO / POOL / CARLOS BARRIA (Photo by CARLOS BARRIA / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CARLOS BARRIA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The Treasury Department announced sanctions against five Iranian entities for attempting to influence the 2020 presidential election.

On Wednesday, the U.S. government identified Iran and Russia had taken actions to interfere with the election, ranging from obtaining voter registration information to sending emails meant to intimidate American voters and sow unrest.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said the two countries took “specific actions” to manipulate public opinion regarding the election, particularly on the internet.

Ratcliffe said Iran has sent “spoof emails” to intimidate voters. Additionally, Iran is distributing other content to say individuals could cast fraudulent ballots from overseas. He called the actions “desperate attempts by desperate adversaries.”

The Treasury Department designated five entities for trying to disrupt the election, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the IRGC-Qods Force, Bayan Rasaneh Gostar Institute, The Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union and International Union of Virtual Media.

In addition, the United States on Thursday blacklisted Iraj Masjedi, Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq, saying he has for years overseen the training and support of Iraqi militia groups which are responsible for attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq.

“In his current capacity, Masjedi has exploited his position as the Iranian regime’s ambassador in Iraq to obfuscate financial transfers conducted for the benefit of the IRGC-QF,” Treasury said in a statement, referring to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The sanctions mean that “all property and interests in property of the persons designated today subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them,” according to the Treasury Department.

Foreign banks that knowingly facilitate transactions or other people that “provide material or certain other support,” could also be blocked from the U.S. financial system or have their property and interests blocked in the U.S.

“Additionally, any entities 50 percent or more owned by one or more designated persons are also blocked,” the federal government said.

“The Iranian regime uses false narratives and other misleading content to attempt to influence U.S. elections,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement. “This Administration is committed to ensuring the integrity of the U.S. election system and will continue to counter efforts from any foreign actor that threatens our electoral processes.”

According to the statement, the Iranian government was directly involved in these attempts “disguised as news organizations or media outlets, have targeted the United States in order to subvert U.S. democratic processes.”

The Treasury Department encourages the American people to confirm information received via social media intelligently by going to multiple trusted sources for news and information, particularly when the source or suspected source of the information is from outside the United States.

The U.S. Treasury Department

The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has put together information on mis- and disinformation on the 2020 election.

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