National Security

Trump Administration Sanctions Iran’s Head Jailer

REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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The Trump administration recently instituted sanctions against Sohrab Soleimani, a senior official in Iran’s prison system, for human rights abuses.

Sohrab Soleimani is the brother of Qassem Soleimani, the notorious leader of the Iranian Qods Force, which supports Iranian terrorist proxies across the Middle East. The Department of Treasury described him as a “senior official” within Iran’s State Prison Organization, which operates the notorious Evin prison. Amir Hekmati, a U.S. citizen and ex-Marine, was imprisoned in Evin for four years before he was released in January, 2016.

“Today’s designations highlight our continued support for the Iranian people and demonstrate our commitment to hold the Government of Iran responsible for its continued repression of its own citizens,” John E. Smith, the director of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), said Thursday. “We will continue to identify, call out, and sanction those who are responsible for serious human rights abuses in Iran.”

Evin Prison has been Iran’s repository for political prisoners since before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It has housed countless political leaders, intellectuals, journalists and religious figures, many of whom were accused of espionage and other forms of dissident activity.

“Evin Prison is one of Iran’s most notorious facilities, due to the detention of many prisoners of conscience and well-documented accounts of their mistreatment and abuse,” said the Treasury Department’s statement. “Former prisoners of Evin Prison have reported harsh interrogations, forced confessions, psychological and physical torture, and denial of access to medical care.”

Dozens of guards “severely beat” political prisoners in one of the prison’s wards in April 2014, according to the statement. The hours-long attacks left 30 prisoners wounded, many of whom were then thrown into solitary confinement and denied medical treatment. Soleimani reportedly denied the attack took place, despite “well-documented” evidence.

Hekmati reported that he was subjected to various forms of torture during his imprisonment at Evin. He was held in a three by three-foot cell for his first four months in detention, and spent more than a year in solitary confinement, which “severely limited his vision.” He suffered sleep deprivation, electric shocks to his kidneys, beatings and was forcibly given drugs in order to induce withdrawal symptoms.

OFAC sanctioned the Tehran Prisons Organization in addition to Soleimani. The office added that attacks on prisoners and human rights abuses in Evin prison continue to this day.

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