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Iran denounces US sanctions over election interference

Iran said the new sanctions imposed on a group of Iranians for alleged election meddling were a continuation of the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Iran has condemned sanctions imposed by the Biden administration on six Iranians and one company for alleged interference in the 2020 presidential campaign. 

On Thursday the Treasury Department announced the designations of Iranian cybersecurity company Emennet Pasargad and six Iranians it said took part in a cyber campaign “to intimidate and influence American voters, and otherwise undermine voter confidence and sow discord.” 

The Justice Department also unveiled criminal charges against two of the sanctioned Iranians, Seyyed Mohammad Hosein Musa Kazemi and Sajjad Kashian, who are accused of hacking the computer system of an unidentified US state and downloading data on more than 100,000 of that state’s voters. Prosecutors accused them of posing as the white nationalist Proud Boys group and sending thousands of threatening emails to registered Democrats, as well as illegally gaining access to a US media company’s computer network.

In a statement posted to Twitter on Friday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh described the administration’s sanctions against the alleged Iranian cyber actors as "not legitimate." 

“Iran considers the new US sanctions efforts as a continuation of the failed policy of Trump's maximum pressure and as actions out of desperation,” Khatibzadeh said. 

The Trump administration pursued what it called a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran after unilaterally withdrawing from the nuclear deal in 2018 and restored harsh economic sanctions meant to spur broader negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, ballistic missiles program and regional activity. 

President Joe Biden is seeking to rejoin the landmark accord and has pledged to lift the Trump-era sanctions in exchange for Iran coming back into compliance with the deal. Talks aimed at salvaging the agreement are set to resume in Vienna on Nov. 29 after the six rounds of negotiations ended without a breakthrough. 

Iran also lashed out Friday at French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre, who recently called on the United Nations’ atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to send a “strong message” that Tehran should resume cooperation with the agency and return to full implementation of the nuclear deal. 

Iran “has always emphasized that the IAEA's reputation as a technical and specialized body of the United Nations should be free from any political behavior,” Khatibzadeh tweeted. 

The country’s representative office in Vienna announced that IAEA chief Rafael Grossi will visit Iran next week to meet with Iran’s new foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

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