WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has called for an investigation into Twitter for “possible criminal violations” of U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Cruz sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Friday, asking for an investigation to be opened up against the social media company.
In the letter, Cruz said he had sent a previous letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey back in February, saying “Twitter and its principals face criminal liability and sanctions exposure for providing social media accounts to Iranian persons designated as Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)…”
The two accounts Cruz specifically mentioned were those of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. The senator said Twitter is violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by allowing leaders like these two to have accounts.
According to Cruz, Twitter responded to his letter by saying that deactivating the leaders’ accounts would go against the company’s purpose and goals when it comes to making public health information available.
Cruz said that in April, “Khamenei and Zarif used their Twitter accounts to post anti-American disinformation and conspiracy theories, not authoritative health information.”
“The Department of Treasury and the Department of Justice should investigate what appears to be Twitter’s blatant and willful 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,” Cruz said at the end of his letter.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that targeted the legal shield social media companies like Twitter have when it comes to liability for content posted by their users. This came after two of his tweets on mail-in ballots were given a fact-checking label.
One of the president’s tweets on protests in Minneapolis over the in-custody death of George Floyd was also flagged early Friday for “glorifying violence” after he said: “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”