Biden administration has announced the imposition of the first round of sanctions on Russia and Iran for their involvement in hostage-taking and wrongful detention of US citizens abroad.
The US sanctions target Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Intelligence Organization (IRGC-IO) for their complicity, direct or indirect involvement in ordering, controlling or directing wrongful detention of US nationals abroad.
Although the sanctions were underway before the detention of American citizen Evan Gershkovich in March, the move by Russian authorities to arrest the journalist on allegations of espionage further intensified the Biden administration’s decision to impose sanctions. The US has formally declared Gershkovich’s detention a wrongful one, opening up additional resources to secure his release.
The administration has identified at least two American citizens wrongfully detained in Russia, three in Iran, and one US legal permanent resident.
The Department of Treasury also announced sanctions on Ruhollah Bazghandi, Mohammad Kazemi, Mohamad Mehdi Sayyari, and Mohammad Hasan Mohagheghi, all of whom have been directly or indirectly involved in wrongful detention of US citizens in Iran.
The move is intended to serve as a warning to other countries as stated by the administration, in other to desist from wrongful detention of US nationals, and the US administration hopes that these sanctions would contribute to changing behavior and incentivizing better behavior in the future.