U.S. Imposes Russian & Iranian Sanctions over Detained Americans

April 27, 2023

The Biden Administration on Thursday imposed sanctions on Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) over unjustly detained Americans.

It’s the first rollout of new sanctions that were established by Biden last year to be imposed against those wrongly holding Americans captive. However, the latest sanctions are largely symbolic as both organizations are already under sweeping sanctions for past behavior, including U.S. election interference, terrorism and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Senior Biden officials have not named which Americans’ detentions drew the new sanctions, saying rather that they were a response to a pattern of behavior by Russia and Iran. The officials further asserted that the sanctions had been in the works well before Russia’s arrest late last month of 31-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, whom the State Department designated as “wrongfully detained” on April 11, sending his case to the  the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.

In a news release, the U.S. Treasury did say that Iran frequently detains prisoners in Evin Prison in Tehran. 

In addition to targeting the two countries’ intelligence organizations, the White House also added more sanctions to four IRGC leaders accused of being involved in hostage taking.

The announcement comes ahead of next week’s annual dinnerof the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation—named for an American journalist who was murdered in 2014 less than two years after being abducted in Syria. That event is expected to include as guests multiple former hostages and detainees. In addition, there is a candlelight vigil planned for next week outside the White House to raise awareness of detained Americans.

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