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U.S. tightens restrictions against Iran over human rights record
- In a sweeping condemnation of Iran's human rights record, the Trump administration on Thursday announced visa restrictions on Iranian officials, a re-designation of the country for violating fundamental religious freedoms and sanctions against Tehran judges known for their repressive sentencing.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the moves Thursday at the State Department in Washington before members of the Iranian diaspora, stating that the United States stands with the people of Iran.
He said the United States is restricting visas for officials, and the families of officials, found to be responsible for repressing protesters who demonstrated in mid-November over a fuel price hike.
Amnesty International said Monday thousands were detained in Iran during the crackdown of Nov. 15-18 and at least 304 people were killed based on information from credible sources.
However, the State Department has said that based on its information Tehran has killed upwards of 1,000 people.
"Thugs killing people's children will not be allowed to send their own children to study in the United States of America," he said to applause from the crowd.
In November, Pompeo asked protesters in Iran to send the State Department footage of government brutality and he said Thursday it is being used to hold accountable those responsible for repressing the freedoms of Iranians.
He also announced that he re-designated Iran as a Country of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act to bring attention to Tehran for being "among the worst violators of basic fundamental religious freedoms."
The Treasury Department also slapped sanctions on Iranian judges Mohammad Moghisseh and Abolghassem Salavati for having "punished Iranian citizens and dual-nationals for exercising their freedoms of expression or assembly," it said in a statement.
The State Department said they had been identified as being key tools of repression used by the regime to stifle dissent.
Known as "the Judge of Death," Salavati has delivered harsh sentences, including death sentences, to political prisoners, human rights activists and peaceful demonstrations, according to the Treasury.
He is also responsible for sentencing American citizen Xiyue Wang to 10 years in prison on charges of espionage.
Wang, a graduate student who was researching Iran's Qajar dynasty, was arrested in August 2016 and convicted in April 2017 on two counts of espionage. He was freed early this month as part of a prisoner exchange between Washington and Tehran.
"We're glad we won Xiyue's release," Pompeo said, "but he should've never been sentenced or jailed in the first place." He described Salavati as a "tool of the regime's oppression" who's sentenced hundreds of political prisoners.
Pompeo also announced sanctions against Moghisseh who he accused of sentencing human rights lawyer and women's rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes.
He is also known for sentencing journalists and internet users, including eight Iranians with Facebook accounts who were sentenced to 127 years in prison on charges of anti-regime publicity and insults to religion, according to the Treasury.
"This administration is targeting those in the regime who seek to censor protesters, persecute religious minorities and silence the Iranian people," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. "The United States stands with those who participate in peaceful public dissent and protests."
The moves come as the Trump administration continues its "extreme pressure" campaign over Tehran's nuclear program.
Tensions between the two countries have skyrocketed in recent years. In May 2018, President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from a landmark multination nuclear deal with Iran that he called "defective at its core" and then canceled temporary waivers permitting countries to purchase Persian oil without violating U.S. sanctions.
Since then, Iran has repeatedly broken its commitments under the deal and the United States has responded by consistently imposing sanctions.
Following the protests in November, the State Department has increased its pressure against Iran over its human rights record and late last month Pompeo said more sanctions would be coming.
"Iran's human rights violations are worse than unacceptable," he said. "They're evil, and they're wrong."


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