TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran summoned the Swiss ambassador in Tehran on Thursday to protest over what it called U.S. sanctions imposed on eight Iranian officials who Washington says participated in human rights abuses, media reported.
Iran has no diplomatic relations with the United States and U.S. interests in Tehran are handled by the Swiss embassy.
Washington on Wednesday named eight senior Iranian officials, including several cabinet ministers and the commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, as being involved in human rights abuses after Iran’s disputed presidential election in 2009.
“This action by the American government is a clear interference in Iran’s domestic issues... it is also a political misuse of the human understanding of human rights,” state broadcaster IRIB quoted a deputy foreign minister as telling the Swiss envoy.
An executive order signed by President Barack Obama specified that any assets the eight Iranians have in the United States are subject to seizure and bans any transactions with them by American citizens.
Iran and the United States are already at loggerheads over the Islamic state’s nuclear program. Washington has imposed various sanctions on Iran, including sanctions on its energy sector vital to the country’s economy.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “on these officials’ watch or under their command” Iranians had been arrested, beaten, tortured, raped, blackmailed and killed.
Iran’s 2009 election was followed by street protests, the most serious unrest since the Islamic Republic was founded in 1979, and were put down violently by security forces. Mass detentions and trials followed. Two people were executed and scores remain in jail.
The opposition says the vote was rigged to bring back President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but officials deny this.
Hundreds of reformists have been detained and put on trial in a crackdown on the pro-reform opposition since the election.
A fact sheet distributed by Treasury listed the eight Iranians as Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp; Sadeq Mahsouli, Minister of Welfare and Security and former Minister of the Interior; Qolam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, Prosecutor General and former Minister of Intelligence; Saeed Mortazavi, former Prosecutor-General of Tehran; Heydar Moslehi, Minister of Intelligence; Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, Minister of the Interior and former Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces for Law Enforcement; Ahmad-Reza Radan, deputy chief of Iran’s National Police; and Hossein Taeb, deputy IRGC Commander for Intelligence and former Commander of IRGC’s Basij Forces.
Editing by Ruth Pitchford