Pompeo asks Iranian protesters to send US videos, photos of Tehran crackdown

Pompeo asks Iranian protesters to send US videos, photos of Tehran crackdown

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoKobach has lead in Kansas Senate race unless Pompeo enters: report The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday Senate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial MORE is asking Iranian protesters to send the U.S. any photos or videos of violent abuses committed by the Islamic Republic, with a pledge to use the evidence as the basis for new sanctions.

Pompeo made the request on Thursday night on Twitter, in both Farsi and English, following a government crackdown on demonstrations that began last week. He directed protesters to a secure messaging service to send any documentation of abuses.

“I have asked the Iranian protestors to send us their videos, photos, and information documenting the regime’s crackdown on protestors,” the secretary wrote on Twitter. “The U.S. will expose and sanction the abuses.”
Tehran has imposed a media and communications blackout on its residents in response to mass protests that started last week following a sharp increase in gas prices and fuel rationing. The protests quickly spread to more than 100 parts of the country, with reports of violence and property destruction.
 
The Treasury Department on Friday announced sanctions on telecommunications minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi.

Netblocks.org, a civil society group that maps internet freedom, said connectivity in Iran has increased to about 15 percent but still constitutes a “near-total” blackout since it was imposed five days ago.

Human rights groups have said at least 100 people have been killed by Iranian security forces, but believe that number to be much higher because of the information blackout. Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency reported that at least 1,000 people have been arrested and blamed Western influence in stoking the unrest.

ADVERTISEMENT
The State Department directed Iranians with documented evidence of abuses to send their evidence through Telegram, a secure messaging service app.

Iranians must use special applications on smartphones or computers, called virtual private networks, to get around state censorship of social media sites like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

Iranian leaders, however, regularly post on Twitter in English, including verified accounts for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

It's unclear if protesters are receiving the messages from the State Department on Twitter or if other means are being used to communicate.
 
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
 
Any new sanctions would be in addition to the harsh penalties Washington imposed on Tehran in 2018 following the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran, the U.S. and European countries.
 
Since then the U.S. has increased pressure on Tehran, sanctioning Iran's financial sector, shipping, oil, government leaders and the paramilitary Iranian Revolutionary Guards.