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U.S. official: Trump admin to sanction Iran for wrestler’s execution, other abuses

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will announce on Thursday afternoon sanctions against Iran’s Revolutionary Court system on human rights’ grounds for the execution of a 27-year-old wrestler and other abuses, Fox News has reported citing a U.S. official.

Judge Seyyed Mahmoud Sadati, Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz, and Adelabad Prison will be sanctioned for their responsibility in Navid Afkari’s trial, imprisonment, and execution, according to the report. In 2018, Afkari was arrested for participating in anti-government protests. Subsequently, the wrestler was charged with murder, tortured, and then executed on September 12, according to a U.S. official.

This will be the first time that the United States will impose sanctions on judges and courts in another country for human rights abuses. State Department policy has long omitted foreign judges and courts from human rights sanctions, representing a dramatic departure for U.S. foreign policy.

Pompeo, in order to authorize the sanctions, has decided that Iran’s Revolutionary Court system does not meet the definition of a regular court system, said the U.S. official, according to Fox News.

“These so-called ‘revolutionary courts’ are not what anyone in the United States would recognize as a court. Their purpose is to maintain the regime’s stranglehold on power and put Iranians who seek freedom into prison—or even to order their execution,” said Elliott Abrams, U.S. Special Representative for Iran, giving credence to Pompeo’s supposed justification. “They take orders for their verdicts from the ayatollahs and they make a mockery of justice.”

International outcry followed Afkari’s execution, prompting State and Treasury Department officials to finish the often months-long sanctions process in less than two weeks, says a U.S. official.

Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has toughened its stance on Iran. In 2018, the administration withdrew the U.S. from the multilateral 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a deal that many in the U.S. viewed as ineffective.

This week, the administration is seeking to reinstate the United Nations Security Council sanctions that were suspended following the 2015 deal’s signing. This move prompted a joint statement from the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, saying that this action “is incapable of having any legal effect.” Despite this denunciation, the U.S. will proceed with the sanctions, it announced on Monday.

Iran has repeatedly violated the terms of the agreement following the U.S. withdrawal in order to advance its nuclear program. Western countries have long accused the program of being a front for the development of nuclear weapons, a claim which Iran’s regime repeatedly denies.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Venezuela’s communist president punishing Biden admin by halting flights of migrants being repatriated from U.S.

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Venezuela is pushing around the Biden administration by halting flights of migrants being repatriated from the U.S. and Mexico. According to U.S. officials, Venezuela’s communist President Nicolas Maduro is breaking a deal with the United States, which was a “key instrument for the Biden administration to halt illegal migration from the communist South American country” reports ADN America.

Reportedly the “halt in flights came as part of a Venezuelan measure after the White House reinstated some economic sanctions it had lifted against its oil and gas industry as part of a gesture to move the country toward democratic elections.”

Washington has since accused Caracas of following through with its promises to ease pressure and intimidation tactics against opposition candidates, such as the country’s prized Unity candidate, Maria Corina Machado, ADN America adds.

“Corina Machado obtained an impressive 72% level of support, marking a milestone as the candidate with greatest support in the history of the country before elections.” ADN has published several reports outlining the crack downs, kidnappings of opposition candidate campaign workers and intimidation tactics.

In addition to breaking its promises to observe democratic principles for free and fair elections, Venezuela has also asserted a claim it has a right to invade its oil rich neighbor, Guyana, sparking further concerns within the Pentagon and State Department.

According to U.S. officials who spoke to The Wall Street Journal, chances of reigniting the agreement are slim and relations between both sides continue to slip into a dark chasm. “Increased deportations and containing the surge of migrants from Venezuela, the third-largest nationality after Mexico and Guatemala, could have helped ease some of the pressure on Biden, whose poll ratings have been sliding ahead of November’s presidential election, partly because of the immigration issue,” the Journal reported.

The U.S. has so far repatriated about 1,800 Venezuelans on 15 flights since the October agreement was brokered, a sliver of the migrants who have penetrated the southwest border during the Biden era.

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