The Treasury Department announced sanctions against six Iranians and one entity “for trying to influence the 2020 US presidential elections.”
At the same time, the Justice Department revealed 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 multifaceted cyber campaign to intimidate and influence American voters, and undermine voter confidence and sow discord, in connection with the 2020 United States Congress. election. “
The Facebook messages and emails, prosecutors allege, were sent to the presidential campaign of President Donald Trump, White House advisers and members of the media. The messages included a video, according to prosecutors, bearing the Proud Boys logo, and the messages claimed that the Democratic Party was working to exploit “serious security vulnerabilities” in state voter registration websites.
The indictment also describes bogus electoral messages that the defendants allegedly sent to voters using information obtained from an anonymous state’s voter website.
“The emails were also allegedly from the Proud Boys, targeted at registered Democrats, and threatened recipients with physical injury if they did not change their party affiliation and vote for President Trump,” the indictment read, alleging that the emails “included the name and postal address of the recipient “.
The case began in the Southern District of New York. The defendants face charges of conspiracy, voter intimidation and interstate transmission of threats. Kazemi also faces computer fraud charges.
Treasury Department Sanctions
The Treasury Department, in announcing the sanctions, said that “the United States identified attempts at cyber intrusion by state-sponsored actors, including Iranian actors seeking to sow discord and undermine the faith of voters in the American electoral process.”
“These Iranian actors obtained or attempted to obtain information on American voters from US state election websites, sent threatening emails to intimidate voters, and created and spread disinformation related to elections and electoral security,” said the Department 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.”
The company was previously sanctioned under another name for supporting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. It also sanctioned the manager of the company, Mohammad Bagher Shirinkar, and five other people connected to the Emennet network, including Kazemi and Kashian, the two accused.
As a result of the sanctions, “all property and interests in the property of designated targets that are subject to US jurisdiction are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from transacting with them.” , and “financial institutions and other persons who participate in certain transactions or activities with the sanctioned entity and individuals may be exposed to sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action.”
The US State Department is also offering a reward of up to $ 10 million “for information on the activities of” Kazemi and Kashian.
This story has been updated with additional details.
Sean Lyngaas contributed to this report.