The US has sanctioned five Iranian entities for “brazen attempts” to interfere with US elections and US voters according to Yahoo News.
US Treasury named the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps), the IRGC-QF (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force), the Bayan Rasaneh Gostar Institute, the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union and International Union of Virtual Media as the main groups responsible for election interference and disinformation.
The Treasury says that the Iranian regime has targeted the US electoral process with “brazen attempts” to sow discord among the voting populace by “spreading disinformation online and executing malign influence operations aimed at misleading US voters.”
They say that since 2015, Bayan Gostar has served as a “front company” for Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force propaganda efforts. In the months leading up to the 2020 election, they say that Bayan Gostar personnel planned to influence the election by exploiting social issues in the United States, including COVID-19 and denigrating US officials. According to the Treasury department, Bayan Gostar has been planning as recently as summer of 2020 to execute a series of influence operations directed at the United States.
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said, “The Iranian regime uses false narratives and other misleading content to attempt to influence U.S elections. This Administration is committed to ensuring the integrity of the U.S. election system and will continue to counter efforts from any foreign actor that threatens our electoral process.”
IRTVU, or the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union, which the US Treasury Department says is a propaganda arm of the IRGC-QF, along with the IUVM (International Union of Virtual Media), aided Bayan Gostar in efforts to reach US audiences. In addition to this, they published false narratives in English, and posted disparaging propaganda articles and other US-oriented content with the intent to sow discord among US audiences. Conspiracy theories and other disinformation relating to the Coronavirus pandemic were also shared according to the Treasury Department.
Featured image credit: Kevin Lamarque with Reuters.