The US Treasury department has issued sanctions against five Iranian entities it claims are attempting to influence the upcoming 2020 elections.
According to the department, components of the Iranian government have disguised themselves as news organisations or media outlets to spread disinformation and propaganda articles across the United States.
“The Iranian regime uses false narratives and other misleading content to attempt to influence US elections,” said Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “This administration is committed to ensuring the integrity of the US election system and will continue to counter efforts from any foreign actor that threatens our electoral processes.”
The identified entities are Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the IRGC-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), Bayan Rasaneh Gostar Institute (Bayan Gostar), Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU), and International Union of Virtual Media (IUVM), which have been accused of directly or indirectly engaging in, sponsoring, concealing, or otherwise being complicit in foreign interference for this year’s presidential election.
According to Treasury, Bayan Gostar, IRTVU, and IUVM executed a series of influenced operations directed at the populace. IUVM also posted conspiracy theories and disinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, various IRGC-QF outlets allegedly amplified false narratives and posted propaganda content, such as articles, cartoons, and memes that were aimed at sowing discord among US audiences.
With the sanctions, all of the Iranian entities’ properties have been blocked by the US, and US citizens will be prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them.
The sanctions follow a flurry of reports that Iran has been working to sow discord ahead of the US presidential election, with high-ranking government officials earlier in the day accusing Iran of being behind a wave of emails sent to US voters earlier this week. Spoofing the identity of violent extremist group Proud Boys, the emails threatened registered Democrat voters with repercussions if they didn’t vote for Donald Trump in the upcoming US presidential election.
The senders claimed to have “gained access into the entire [US] voting infrastructure”, but appeared to use public voter registration databases to target Democrat voters in Alaska, Arizona, and Florida.
Meanwhile, Twitter said at the start of the month that it removed around 130 Iranian Twitter accounts as they attempted to disrupt the public conversation following the first presidential debate.
Twitter said it learned of the accounts following a tip from the US Federal Bureau of Investigations.
“We identified these accounts quickly, removed them from Twitter, and shared full details with our peers, as standard,” the social network said at the start of the month.