Ayatollah’s Lobby Label Wasn’t Defamation

     WASHINGTON (CN) – An Arizona man did not defame a nonprofit or its president in accusing them of colluding with the Iranian government, a federal judge ruled.
     The National Iranian American Council and its president, Trita Parsi, claimed that they were maliciously and falsely represented as “members of a subversive and illegal Iranian lobby colluding with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
     They sued Seid Hassan Daioleslam for broadcasting this message in articles on IranianLobby.com and other websites.
     The council says it is an advocacy organization “dedicated to promoting Iranian American involvement in American civic life,” and that Daioleslam’s articles have hampered both its fund-raising and advocacy goals.
     Daioleslam pointed to the group’s lobbying activities to defend the fact that he referred to the council as “the Mullahs’ lobby” and “the Ayatollahs’ Lobby.”
     U.S. District Judge John Bates granted him summary judgment Thursday, noting that several of the claims against Daioleslam can be dismissed easily.
     “Defendant was often sloppy in his reporting, either omitting ellipses, slightly misquoting the underlying source, or failing to put a citation in the appropriate place,” Bates wrote. “But none of the errors misrepresent the substance of the source material or mislead the reader.”
     The complaint pointed out that Parsi has repeatedly criticized the regime and its human rights abuses, but Bates found that “plaintiffs have put forth no evidence that defendant ever saw the statements related to human rights that are cited in Parsi’s affidavit.”
     Bates also ordered the council and Parsi to pay sanctions, but rejected Daioleslam’s biggest argument, which concerned employee calendar entries which were edited to remove the word “lobby.”
     The judge found the evidence “confusing” and said the alterations and deletions were not necessarily suspicious, but he did grant the defendant costs on other matters.
     Parsi and the council my pay fees related to their incomplete or delayed production of relevant emails, Salesforce data, and servers and computers.
     “Defendant should not have to bear the costs of bringing those abuses to the attention of the court,” Bates wrote.

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