The Treasury Department announced sanctions against six Iranian individuals and one entity “for attempting to influence the 2020 US presidential election.”
At a time, the justice ministry unveiled criminal charges against two of the Iranians. The indictment alleges that the defendants Seyyed Mohammad Hosein Musa Kazemi and Sajjad Kashian “participated in a coordinated and multidimensional, cyber-activated campaign to intimidate and influence American voters, and otherwise undermine voter confidence and sow discord. , as part of the 2020 US presidential election. “
Facebook messages and emails, prosecutors say, have been sent to President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, White House advisers and members of the media. The posts included a video, prosecutors said, that featured the Proud Boys logo, and the posts claimed the Democratic Party was trying to exploit “serious security loopholes” on the country’s voter registration websites. State.
The indictment also describes false election messages that the defendants allegedly sent to voters using information obtained from an anonymous state’s voter website.
The case was brought to the Southern District of New York. The defendants face charges of conspiracy, intimidation of voters and transmission of interstate threats. Kazemi also faces computer fraud charges.
Sanctions of the Treasury Department
The Treasury Department, announcing the sanctions, said that “the United States has identified attempted cyber-intrusions by state-sponsored actors, including Iranian actors who sought to sow discord and undermine the voter confidence in the US electoral process ”.
“These Iranian actors obtained or attempted to obtain information about American voters from American state election websites, sent threatening emails to intimidate voters, and fabricated and disseminated disinformation regarding the elections and the security of the voters. elections, ”the department said in a press release.
The Treasury Department said that “the ability of actors to take advantage of this unauthorized access was ultimately thwarted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Iranian cyber firm Emennet Pasargad led the effort, the Treasury Department said. The company was sanctioned, along with six people associated with it, and the company had previously been sanctioned under a different name for supporting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. He also punished the company’s director, Mohammad Bagher Shirinkar, and five other people linked to Emennet’s network, including Kazemi and Kashian, the two indicted.
As a result of the sanctions, “all property and interests in the property of designated targets that are subject to United States jurisdiction are blocked, and American persons are generally prohibited from entering into transactions with them,” and ” financial institutions and other persons who engage in certain transactions or activities with the sanctioned entity and individuals may be subject to sanctions or be subject to enforcement action.
The US State Department is also offering a reward of up to $ 10 million “for information on or about the activities of” Kazemi and Kashian.
This story has been updated with additional details.
Sean Lyngaas contributed to this report.