(December 19, 2019 / JNS) The United States sanctioned two judges on Iran’s Revolutionary Court on Thursday for allegedly punishing Iranian citizens and dual nationals for exercising their freedoms of expression or assembly, often sentencing them to death.
Abolghassem Salavati and Mohammad Moghisseh have been accused of overseeing unfair cases, also known as “show trials,” against journalists, attorneys, political activists and members of Iran’s ethnic and religious minority groups, penalizing them for exercising their freedom of expression and assembly and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, lashes and even execution, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
“The United States will not be a bystander to ongoing oppression and injustice in Iran. This administration is targeting those in the regime who seek to censor protesters, persecute religious minorities and silence the Iranian people,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “The United States stands with those who participate in peaceful public dissent and protests.”
Tzvi Kahn, a senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote in The Hill in June, “A U.S. designation of Salavati, one of the harshest figures in Iran’s judiciary, would mark an important way to increase pressure on the regime for its longstanding repression of Iranians and Americans alike.”
Regarding Salavati’s conduct behind the bench, Kahn wrote:
In his courtroom, trials often last a few minutes, sentences often occur on the basis of coerced confessions with little or no evidence, Salavati himself frequently serves as prosecutor as well as judge, and defendants receive little or no access to a lawyer. He routinely dismisses or ignores allegations of torture in prison. He habitually accepts sentencing recommendations from the IRGC and the intelligence ministry, undercutting any pretense that his court offers an independent check on the executive branch. In fact, the regime consistently brings him cases when it seeks to make an example of a political prisoner it regards as especially dangerous.
Moghisseh is “notorious for sentencing scores of journalists and Internet users to lengthy prison terms. In one case alone, he sentenced eight Iranian Facebook users to a cumulative total of 127 years in prison for charges including anti-regime publicity and insults to religion. Multiple artists, including filmmakers and poets, have also been tried in Moghisseh’s court under charges such as collusion against national security and propaganda against the state allegedly found in their artwork,” according to the Treasury Department.
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