Families Of Kidnapped Persian Jews Sue Khatami In US Court

Law suit alleges visiting Iranian implemented anti-Semitic policy of

torture and imprisonment

Sep 09, 2006, 01:00 ET from Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center

    NEW YORK, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Seven Jewish-Iranian families have
 filed suit in an American federal court against former President Mohammad
 Khatami over charges that he is responsible for the kidnapping and torture
 of their missing family members. The families, currently residing in Los
 Angeles and Israel, contend that Khatami instituted the policy of
 imprisoning their relatives without trials and refusing to provide them any
 information concerning their whereabouts. The Jews were arrested on
 different occasions during the years 1994 through 1997, as they sought to
 leave Iran across its border with Pakistan.
     On Friday evening copies of the complaint and summons were served on
 Khatami at a reception in Arlington, Virginia hosted by the Council on
 American-Islamic Relations. Khatami has twenty days to file an answer
 denying the allegations or default the case.
     The plaintiffs, who are not U.S. citizens, brought the suit under
 special laws - the Alien Torts Act and the Torture Victims Protection Act -
 which permit foreigners to sue their tormentors for torture and kidnapping
 in American courts. The lawsuit filed in the New York District Court is
 being represented by attorneys Robert Tolchin of New York, Nitsana
 Darshan-Leitner of Jerusalem and Pooya Dayanim of Los Angeles. The
 plaintiffs are seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages against
 Khatami for his role in the on-going disappearance of their loved ones.
     Since the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, millions of Iranian
 citizens have sought to escape from the Islamic regime. In normal
 circumstances when Muslim citizens are arrested attempting to leave without
 official permission, the established punishment is a small fine or a short
 jail term. However, in the instances where Jewish citizens have been
 similarly arrested, the Islamic government has instituted much harsher
 penalties. The Plaintiffs allege that Khatami has singled out the Jewish
 community and authorized the policy of secretly imprisoning the Jews
     Over the years, the Jewish families have received reports from other
 former prisoners and guards that the missing Jews are alive and being held
 in different prisons. In the case of the Tehrani family of Los Angeles, a
 former Muslim neighbor has sworn out an affidavit testifying that he has
 seen their missing son, Babak Tehrani, in a Tehran prison two years after
 his disappearance.
     "These Persian Jewish families are seeking to bring Khatami before an
 American court for his involvement in the torture and imprisonment of their
 loved ones in Iran," stated the families' attorney Nitsana-Darshan-Leitner,
 "It is shocking that the State Department would grant this anti-Semitic
 criminal a travel visa instead of joining with the families in the struggle
 to bring him to justice. The court case will establish that these missing
 Jews are indeed still alive in Iranian prisons and that the former
 President violated international law with his policy of arrests and torture
 which targeted the Jewish community."

SOURCE Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center