PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – A naturalized citizen of Iranian descent says the FBI violated her privacy and endangered her family’s life by delivering documents about her to Russian intelligence officials, who can be expected to share them with Iran. She says the FBI did it after a raid on the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation.
Laleh Naz Zahedi sued the Department of Justice, the IRS, the FBI, IRS agent Colleen Anderson and FBI agent David Carroll, in Federal Court.
Zahedi, who became a U.S. citizen in 2000, says she used computers at the Qur’an Foundation and the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation in Ashland, Ore., to generate and store personal files and to communicate with her family and friends, some of them in Iran.
“Among the communications with friends and family were conversations involving personal private views on political, religious, social, and family financial matters,” Zahedi says.
The IRS searched al-Haramain’s offices, with a warrant, in February 2004. Zahedi says the items to be seized were “limited specifically to (i) Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, Inc.’s filing of a Form 990 Tax Return for the year 2000, and (ii) evidence relating to the failure of a Saudi national, Soliman Al-Buthi, to file a currency and monetary instrument reporting (‘CMIR’) form covering travelers’ checks taken with him upon his departure from the United States in 2000.”
The raid came after the government froze al-Haramain’s assets and placed it on an official list of terrorist organizations.
Zahedi says the government seized her files, despite the limitations of the warrant, and that though the government was required to return items that were irrelevant to the investigation within 60 days, it failed to do so.
Zahedi says: “FBI agent Carroll acknowledged that the United States Government had in December 2008 copied and turned over to Russian intelligence officials of the Federal’naya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti, or ‘FSB,’ complete copies of the hard disks seized from the Al-Haramain premises in February 2004.” The FSB is the successor agency to the KGB.
Zahedi says her personal data and e-mails were included on the copies of the hard drives handed over to the FSB.
“At the time that the United States Government turned over copies of the computer hard drives to the FSB it was publicly known that Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran routinely share intelligence information,” Zahedi says.
Zahedi says the FBI and IRS violated her right to privacy and freedom of religion and endangered her and the people with whom she had communicated, by giving her private digital files to the FSB.
She seeks $5 million in damages for abuse of process, invasion of privacy and conversion and wants the government enjoined from further disseminating her private materials.
She is represented by Thomas Nelson of Welches, Ore.