Senator Calls for Criminal Probe Into Twitter’s Alleged Breach of Iran Sanctions

Senator Calls for Criminal Probe Into Twitter’s Alleged Breach of Iran Sanctions
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in Washington on Feb. 5, 2020. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)
Ivan Pentchoukov

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called on the Department of Justice on May 29 to investigate Twitter for potential violations of sanctions imposed on the Iranian regime.

Twitter has long granted accounts to Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, and Javad Zarif, the Iranian Foreign Minister. Both men have been sanctioned by the Treasury Department and American citizens and companies are prohibited from providing them with goods or services.

In the letter, Cruz alleged that Twitter has violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and has carried out sanctionable activities prohibited by Executive Order 13876.

“We don’t have a comment,” Ian Plunkett, Twitter’s global director for public policy communications, wrote in an email to The Epoch Times.

Cruz had notified Twitter of the potential violation in February. Twitter issued a response in April to justify its decision in light of the pandemic of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the coronavirus.

The company argued that to deny services to these “leaders at a time like this would be antithetical to the purpose of our company” and that Twitter’s “goal is to elevate and amplify authoritative health information as far as possible.”

Cruz called Twitter’s arguments “untenable.”

“In early April, Khamenei and Zarif used their Twitter accounts to post anti-American disinformation and conspiracy theories, not authoritative health information. They use their accounts provided by Twitter to threaten and taunt their enemies real and imagined,” Cruz wrote.

“In any event, Twitter’s corporate values and grave misapprehension of the threat that Khamenei and Zarif pose are irrelevant. An American person’s disagreement with IEEPA or E.O. 13876 is no excuse for noncompliance.”

The United States considers Iran the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. The Islamic regime does not allow Iranians to use Twitter.

Cruz also pointed out that Twitter’s legal argument for being exempt from the sanctions does not hold ground.

“I wrote to Twitter before writing to you because I believe that the primary goal of IEEPA and sanctions law should be to change the behavior of designated individuals and regimes, not American companies,” Cruz wrote. “But when a company willfully and openly violates the law after receiving formal notice that it is unlawfully supporting designated individuals, the federal government should take action.”

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

President Donald Trump reimposed strict sanctions on Iran after the United States exited the Iran nuclear deal.

Ivan is the national editor of The Epoch Times. He has reported for The Epoch Times on a variety of topics since 2011.
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