Ahmadinejad - Reuters
Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Photo by Reuters
Text size
related tags

The European Union imposed sanctions against 29 Iranian individuals on Monday, extending previous measures in response to crackdowns on opposition movements and other human rights abuses.

At a meeting in Luxembourg, EU foreign ministers agreed to impose asset freezes and visa bans on the individuals. The new measures extend the current list that targets individuals associated with human rights violations to 61.

The EU also imposed sanctions on 16 Belarus officials, targeting mainly judges and state lawyers involved in the detention of leading human rights activist Ales Belyatsky.

The U.S. State Department has said that Iran executed about 312 people in 2010, many after trials conducted in secret. In many cases people who were executed for supposedly criminal offences were actually political dissidents, the department said in a report.

EU sanctions focus mostly on economic and trade measures aiming to force Iran to slow its nuclear program, which Tehran says serves peaceful purposes but Western powers worry aims to produce weapons.

Also on Monday, Iran released two of five Iranian filmmakers jailed for cooperating with the Farsi television service of the BBC, ISNA news agency reported. Nasser Safarian and Mohsen Shahnazdar were freed on Saturday, after each reportedly posted bail of 160,000 dollars.

Documentaries by the five filmmakers were broadcast on the BBC Farsi program without prior coordination with relevant authorities.

The BBC's Farsi-language service is banned in Iran, and has no official facilities or staff in the country. The programs are available via satellite. The network is accused by the Iranian government of broadcasting "anti-revolutionary programs" to fuel unrest.