Twitter declined to comment.
The letter was signed by Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and it was also sent to U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California David Anderson, Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and President Donald Trump.
The senators pointed out that although General License D-1, published in February 2014 by the administration of then-President Barack Obama, provided an exception to sanctions against Iran for internet-based communications, it should not apply to Iranian government officials, who were excluded by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act invoked by Trump last June 24.
The senators wrote, “While the First Amendment protects the free speech rights of Americans—and Twitter should not be censoring the political speech of Americans—the Ayatollah enjoys zero protection from the U.S. Bill of Rights. And, as the leader of the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism—directly responsible for the murder of hundreds of U.S. citizens—the Ayatollah and any American companies providing him assistance are entirely subject to U.S. sanctions laws.”
They added, “A Twitter account is a service. Neither GL D-1 or any other authority exempts Twitter from American sanctions. We therefore call on you to comply with those sanctions by ceasing the provision of services to Khamenei, Zarif and any other designated Iranian entity.”