WASHINGTON, May 30 (UPI) -- Sanctions on Iran were eased so U.S. companies may sell cellphones and other personal-communication technology to Iranians, the Treasury Department said.
"As the Iranian government attempts to silence its people by cutting off their communication with each other and the rest of the world, the United States will continue to take action to help the Iranian people exercise their universal human rights, including the right to freedom of expression," the Treasury Department said Thursday in a release.
The Treasury Department said it consulted with the State Department before issuing a general license that authorizes companies to export to Iran "certain services, software and hardware incident to personal communications" so the Iranian people can to communicate with each other and the outside world.
"This general license aims to empower the Iranian people as their government intensifies its efforts to stifle their access to information," the Treasury Department said.
"The general license would not authorize the export of any equipment to the Iranian government or to any individual or entity on the Specially Designated Nationals [SDN] list," the department said.
Also on Thursday, the Treasury Department said it designated Iranian government groups and officials accused of abusing human rights, including the Committee to Determine Instances of Criminal Content, the government agency charged with "filtering" information to the Iranian people.
The State Department announced Thursday it imposed visa restrictions on nearly 60 Iranian government officials and other individuals accused of human rights abuses related to political repression in Iran.