Human Rights

U.S. Sanctions Iranian General’s Brother for Prison Torture

The United States Treasury Department announced on Thursday that it is imposing sanctions against the younger brother of a top Iranian commander, holding him liable for human rights abuses he committed as head of Iran’s notorious Evin prison.

Sohrab Soleimani, a top official in Iran’s State Prison Organization and brother of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the sanctioned head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force, was designated alongside the Tehran Prisons Organization for serious human rights abuses in Iran, Agence France-Presse reported.

AFP noted that the Treasury’s action took place following a wave of arrests by Iran of foreigners.

“The sanctions against human rights abusers in Iran’s prison come at a time when Iran continues to unjustly detain in its prisons various foreigners including U.S. citizens,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters.

“We join recent calls by international organizations and UN human rights experts for the immediate release of all U.S. citizens unjustly detained or missing in Iran,” he continued.

Spicer’s reference to U.S. citizens “missing” in Iran is a possible allusion to former FBI agent Robert Levinson who disappeared after being detained on Iran’s Kish Island over ten years ago.

A number of Americans are currently imprisoned in Iran. They include American-Iranian businessman Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer Namazi, as well as Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese national with U.S. permanent residency. Reza Shahini, a 46-year-old San Diego resident who was sentenced to 18 years in prison in October for espionage-related charges, was released on bail earlier this month. It remains unclear if Shahini will be allowed to leave Iran.

Last month, an unnamed Iranian-American art gallery owner and his wife were sentenced to death for holding mixed gender parties.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and four other Americans were released by Iran in January 2016 on the same day that the Islamic Republic received a shipment of $400 million from the U.S. Rezaian and two family members filed a federal lawsuit against Iran, claiming Rezaian was taken hostage and tortured in order to “extort” concessions from the U.S. during nuclear negotiations. The suit also alleges that Rezaian “suffered such physical mistreatment and severe psychological abuse in Evin Prison that he…will require specialized medical and other treatment for the rest of his life.”

While Iran considers the introduction or renewal of any sanctions to be a violation of the nuclear deal, members of both parties in the U.S. support imposing them for non-nuclear-related reasons, such as human rights violations and financing of terror. Then-Secretary of State John Kerry was emphatic that Iran agreed non-nuclear-related sanctions did not violate the nuclear deal at a July 2015 hearing.

[Photo: Fars News ]