Iranian Dissidents Sue Ebrahim Raisi for Torture

Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi (Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)
September 15, 2022

A group of Iranian dissidents and former hostages is set to sue the hardline regime's president, Ebrahim Raisi, in a landmark case in federal court alleging torture and other human rights crimes.

The case will be filed ahead of Raisi's travel to the United States to attend annual U.N. proceedings in New York City, according to information about the case provided to the Washington Free Beacon by the National Union for Democracy in Iran, an advocacy group comprised of pro-democracy advocates.

The plaintiffs include Mehdi Hajati, a former city councilman in Iran; Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian academic formerly taken hostage by Iran; and Hamid Babaei, a Belgium-based Iranian dissident also held hostage in the country. "The complaint will allege violations of the Torture Victim Protection Act and torture, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery, and false imprisonment," according to the advocacy group. The plaintiffs are being represented by Iranian-American human rights attorney Shahin Milani.

The lawsuit is likely to increase controversy surrounding Raisi's visit to the United States later this month to attend the U.N. General Assembly. The Biden administration decided to grant Raisi a visa to enter the United States, even as members of Congress from both parties pushed the administration to bar him from U.S. soil.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) is spearheading legislation that effectively blocks the Biden administration from giving Raisi a visa, the Free Beacon reported on Wednesday.

Further details of the lawsuit will be unveiled next week during a press event in New York City to coincide with Raisi's address before the United Nations.