May 30, 2020
US Senator Ted Cruz called for a criminal investigation of Twitter on Friday over allegations the company is violating US sanctions against Iran by not banning officials from the site.
Cruz urged Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to open an investigation into Twitter “for possible criminal violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA),” he wrote in a letter sent to the the US Justice and Treasury departments.
In the letter, Cruz explained that he had informed Twitter of their violation of the IEEPA through two specific and active Twitter accounts belonging to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“To this day, Twitter continues to provide services to these covered individuals, and, in an April 3, 2020 response letter, attempted to justify this decision with two untenable arguments,” he wrote.
“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. In any event, Twitter’s corporate values and grave misapprehension of the threat that Khamenei and Zarif pose are irrelevant,” he added.
“The Department of Treasury and the Department of Justice should investigate what appears to be Twitter’s blatant and wilful violation of IEEPA and E.O. 13876 by providing services to Khamenei, Zarif, and other designated Iranian entities, and, to the extent appropriate, enforce any violation through sanctions and by seeking civil and criminal penalties.”