Press Release

December 2, 2021
Cardin, Toomey Unveil Bipartisan Iran Sanctions Legislation in Press Conference with Masih Alinejad

Human Rights Activist Speaks Out After Tehran Plotted to Kidnap Her From Brooklyn Home

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) today held a press conference to unveil the Masih Alinejad Harassment and Unlawful Targeting (HUNT) Act, bipartisan legislation aimed at holding the Iranian regime responsible for its ongoing efforts to silence dissidents by imposing new mandatory sanctions. During the press conference, the senators were joined by Iranian American journalist and human rights activist Masih Alinejad, who inspired the senators’ legislation. In July 2021, Federal prosecutors charged Iranian agents with conspiring to kidnap Ms. Alinejad from her home in Brooklyn.

To watch the press conference, click here

“The brazen attempt by the Iranian regime to kidnap Masih Alinejad on American soil cannot go unchallenged. The U.S. must exercise leadership against authoritarian regimes attempting to silence dissidents beyond their borders,” said Senator Cardin, author of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. “Today, we send a clear message not only to the Iranian regime, but to all authoritarian regimes that if you engage in transnational repression and target dissidents on U.S. soil, there will be dire consequences.”

“The Iranian regime’s attempt to kidnap Masih Alinejad from her home in Brooklyn is a brazen escalation, and it requires a proportional response,” Senator Toomey said during today’s press conference. “Masih is just one of the countless victims of Iran’s transnational repression to silence dissidents. Clearly Iran is not getting the message that this malign behavior—especially against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil—will not be tolerated. That’s why Senator Cardin and I have teamed up to introduce the Masih Alinejad HUNT Act to hold Iran accountable and deter future attacks.”

The Masih Alinejad HUNT Act will hold Tehran accountable and prevent future targeting against critics of the brutal regime by:

  • Imposing mandatory sanctions against those engaging in acts of transnational repression on behalf of Iranian authorities;
    • Requiring the State Department to regularly report on the state of human rights and the rule of law inside Iran;
    • Mandating a continuous assessment of Tehran’s targeting of dissidents at home and abroad, and how such suppression is financed; and
    • Imposing mandatory sanctions on agents of the Iranian regime who are knowingly involved in surveillance, harassment, kidnapping, or assassination of Iranian or U.S. citizens who are critics of the Iranian regime.
  • Authorizing secondary sanctions on banks doing business with agents engaging in transnational repression and targeting dissidents on behalf of the Iranian state.

To read the full text of the bill, click here.

For a one page summary of the bill, click here.