U.S. freezes Iranian officials' assets

Feb. 23, 2011 at 9:07 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Iran Wednesday to "free all political prisoners and persecuted minorities."

Clinton issued a statement saying the United States is "deeply concerned by the persecution of Iranian citizens at the hand of their government."

"We call on Iran to free all political prisoners and persecuted minorities," she said.

"The steady deterioration in human-rights conditions in Iran has obliged the international community to speak out time and again. The world will continue to watch and will hold accountable those responsible for these actions."

The U.S. State and Treasury departments announced the designation of Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi and Mohammed Reza Naqdi, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' Basij Forces, as being "responsible for or complicit in serious human-rights abuses" since the June 2009 election, the State Department said in a release.

"Today's designations highlight the complicity of two Iranian officials in significant human-rights abuses against the Iranian people," said Adam J. Szubin, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. "Dolatabadi and Naqdi have no place in the international financial system."

The move was authorized by an executive order signed by President Obama in September that provides the U.S. government with "new tools to target human rights abuses engaged in by officials of the government of Iran," the release said. "As a result of today's action, any property in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which the designees have an interest is blocked, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. The designees are also subject to visa sanctions by the Department of State."

"Today's action underscores our enduring commitment to support Iranians seeking to exercise their universal rights and expresses our solidarity with victims of torture, persecution, and arbitrary detention," added Michael Posner, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor.

Clinton said there have been at least three peaceful protesters killed by Iranian security forces, and human rights and political activists, former government officials and their families, former members of Parliament, clerics and their children, student leaders and their professors, along with journalists and bloggers have been rounded up and detained.

"Over the past 10 days, we have witnessed the bravery of thousands of Iranians who once again took to the streets to exercise their fundamental rights to peaceful assembly and expression," Clinton said. "It has been made clear to the world that Iran denies its citizens the same fundamental rights it continues to applaud elsewhere in the Middle East."

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