U.S. Sanctions Iranian Leader Who Shut Down Country’s Internet

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The Trump administration on Friday issued new sanctions against a senior Iranian official responsible for shuttering the country's internet amid widespread protests against the hardline regime that have already resulted in many deaths.

As Iranian protesters take to the streets to challenge their government, Iranian leaders have sought to stifle the demonstrations through violence and by shutting down internet access, a tactic routinely employed by oppressive regimes seeking to stop their people from organizing.

The Trump administration said it would not stand by while Iran dashes the democratic hopes of its people. As part of that effort, new sanctions will be applied to Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Iran's minister of information and communications technology.

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"The United States stands with the people of Iran in their struggle against an oppressive regime that silences them while arresting and murdering protesters," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement issued Friday.

"While Iranian regime leaders maintain access to the internet and social media accounts for themselves and their cronies, they deprive their people of these basic tools of expression and communication," Pompeo said. "This hypocrisy simultaneously supports a corrupt religious mafia and oppresses the Iranian people. No country or company should enable the regime's censorship or human rights abuses."

The Trump administration will continue to expose Iranian officials who seek to abuse their citizens, the secretary of state said.

"The United States will always support access to information, freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly, and will continue to promote accountability for those who unduly restrict these freedoms," Pompeo said. "While the Iranian regime will seek to protect the abusers of the Iranian people and hide their horrific actions from memory, the United States will expose these human rights abusers and record their shameful acts for history."