OCEANSIDE, Calif. (AP) — President Joe Biden on Thursday told supporters “we’re gonna free Iran” after audience members appeared to call on him to address the ongoing protests that have spread through that country in the aftermath of the death of a young woman in the custody of its security forces.
“Don’t worry, we’re gonna free Iran,” Biden said in an aside during a campaign rally for Democratic Rep. Mike Levin. He added, “They’re gonna free themselves pretty soon.”
Biden made the comments as supporters in the crowd held up cellphones displaying the message “FREE IRAN.”
The Biden administration has faced growing criticism from Iranian American activists who are calling on the White House to abandon its efforts to resurrect the Iran nuclear deal because of the protests.
The administration announced sanctions last month against Iranian officials for the brutal treatment of demonstrators following the September death of Mahsa Amini after her arrest by Iran’s morality police.
The administration has also recently hit Iran with sanctions for supplying drones and technical assistance to Russia for its war against Ukraine. It ordered U.S. military strikes in August against Iranian-backed militias in Syria in response to attacks on U.S. forces in the region.