Iran has condemned the European Union for its fresh sanctions against 32 Iranian officials over alleged human rights abuses, accusing the bloc of hypocrisy and servitude to the United States.
"This action is a political one which employs double standards, and it is unacceptable," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying on state broadcasting.
He said the actions were aimed at diverting attention from Western rights violations, adding that "this [EU] act, which follows American policies, is condemned...[and] it shows that the European Union is distancing itself from making policy independently."
EU foreign ministers decided on April 12 to impose the asset freezes and travel bans, weeks after the bloc expressed concern that the rights situation in Iran was "deteriorating." They had also cited a "dramatic increase in executions in recent months and the systematic repression of Iranian citizens."
In addition to UN, U.S., and EU punitive sanctions targeting Iran's disputed nuclear activities, Washington hit a handful of Iranian officials with sanctions over actions taken in the aftermath of the contentious presidential election in June 2009, which opposition leaders alleged was fraudulent.
The EU said it was imposing the fresh measures because of Iran's imprisonment of opposition figures, harassment of journalists, and use of capital punishment.
compiled from agency reports