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

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.