US Sanctions Six Iranians, One Entity For Alleged Attempt to Influence US 2020 Elections

© AP Photo / Vahid Salemi In this March 31, 2020, file photo, Iran's national flag waves as Milad telecommunications tower and buildings are seen in Tehran, Iran
 In this March 31, 2020, file photo, Iran's national flag waves as Milad telecommunications tower and buildings are seen in Tehran, Iran - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.11.2021
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The US Treasury announced on Thursday it had sanctioned six Iranians and one Iranian-owned company for allegedly attempting to influence the US election held on November 3, 2020.
According to a press release by the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), six men were added to the list of specially designation nationals (SDNs): Sajjad Kashian, Seyyed Kazemi, Hosein Akbari Nodeh, Mostafa Sarmadi, Seyed Mehdi Hashemi Toghroljerdi, and Mohammad Bagher Shinrakar. It also added the Iranian internet company Emen Net Pasargad to the list.
They were sanctioned under Executive Order 13848, a 2018 order by then-US President Donald Trump that declared a national emergency over alleged attempts by foreign entities to influence US elections.
A separate notice put out by the US Department of Justice on Thursday said that two of the men, Seyyed Kazemi and Sajjad Kashian, had also been charged "for their involvement in a cyber-enabled campaign to intimidate and influence American voters, and otherwise undermine voter confidence and sow discord, in connection with the 2020 US presidential election."
The accusations stem from the weeks before the November 3, 2020, when then-Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe claimed that Iran and Russia had "taken specific actions to influence public opinion relating to [US] elections," including Iran supposedly sending "spoofed emails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage."
However, the metadata from those emails, which purported to be from the pro-Trump right-wing gang Proud Boys and threatened would-be voters for Joe Biden, actually pointed to a number of countries other than Iran, including Saudi Arabia, Estonia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, according to the Washington Post.
Further, such an operation made little sense politically, as it encouraged voters to support Trump, who had unilaterally withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear deal, reimposed "maximum pressure" sanctions on Iran, and taken the two countries to the brink of war by assassinating Gen. Qasem Soleimani, a leading Iranian general and national hero.

Despite this, the US National Security Agency (NSA) and US Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) announced on Election Day that they had undertaken cyber operations against Iran “over the past several weeks and the past several months to make sure that they’re not going to interfere in our elections,” according to Paul Nakasone, who heads both entities.

Other operations have followed, including the mass-takedown of media outlets from Iran but also from several other Shiite groups in Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen, many of which had no connection to the Iranian government. The DOJ said it had seized the domains under an October 2020 decision by OFAC to designate the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU) as part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, which Washington has labeled without evidence as a terrorist entity.
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