DUBAI: The US State Department has lambasted an Iranian airline for its role in spreading COVID-19, urging countries to “avoid the coronavirus and sanction risks by keeping Mahan Air out of your country.”
State spokesperson Morgan Ortagus described the airline as a “deeply troubled weapons of mass destruction proliferator,” in a tweet on Saturday, adding how it “supports terrorism and the Maduro regime.”
Deeply troubled weapons of mass destruction proliferator #MahanAir, which supports terrorism and the Maduro regime, is also reportedly suppressing air crew concerns and spreading #COVID19. Avoid the coronavirus and sanction risks by keeping Mahan Air out of your country.
— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) May 8, 2020
An earlier BBC investigation revealed Mahan Air, which has links to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), continued flying to China and elsewhere for weeks after Tehran barred international flights on Jan. 31.
Data showed flights continued until March despite the travel ban, and the BBC investigation established Iraq’s and Lebanon’s first coronavirus cases originated on Mahan Air flights.
The US designated Mahar Air a supporter of terrorism in 2011 because of its support for the Quds Force of the IRGC. The airline is banned from Saudi airspace, and has been stripped of its landing rights in Germany, France, Spain and Italy.