U.S. sanctions Russia and Iran for detaining American citizens

The Biden administration has announced a first round of sanctions against Russia and Iran for their involvement in the wrongful detention of U.S. citizens abroad. The sanctions target Russia's Federal Security Service and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Intelligence Organization for their roles in ordering, controlling, or directing the wrongful detention of U.S. nationals. The administration has formally declared the detention of American journalist Evan Gershkovich as wrongful and identified at least two other American citizens wrongfully detained in Russia and three in Iran. The sanctions were underway before Gershkovich's detention and were meant to serve as a warning to those who would wrongfully detain U.S. nationals. The Treasury Department announced sanctions on four individuals in Iran involved in suppressing civil society and arranging logistics for prisoners.

Gershkovich, a journalist for The Wall Street Journal, was arrested in late March on allegations of espionage, though the Biden administration and The Wall Street Journal have denied these claims. Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine last February, the U.S. and its allies have imposed rounds of coordinated sanctions against Russia, making it the world's most-sanctioned country. The administration hopes that these sanctions will incentivize better behavior from those who wrongfully detain U.S. citizens and contribute to securing the release of those who are currently detained. Families of those affected were briefed on the sanctions ahead of their announcement. This is breaking news, and updates are expected.


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