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Iranian Torture Victim Gets $20M in Damages

WASHINGTON (CN) - A man who was imprisoned and tortured by Iranian officials who accused him of spying for the U.S. will get more than $20 million in damages, a federal judge ruled.

Nik Moradi sued the Islamic Republic of Iran under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act in 2013, accusing authorities there of jailing him in a tiny prison cell with no light for nearly six months while beating and psychologically torturing him.

His wife Deborah is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit, alleging that Moradi's incarceration, torture and subsequent post traumatic stress disorder is destroying their marriage.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle ruled that the couple met the standard for default judgment after Iran failed to respond to their complaint, but denied their request for $300 million in punitive damages and instead awarded the couple $10.1 million.

The 64-year-old Moradi holds dual citizenship with the U.S. and Iran, visiting his home country often to see his sister and her kids, according to the ruling.

But in 2007, he was seized by authorities at the Tehran airport and taken to jail where he was held in a five-by-eight cell.

"In addition to being kept in solitary confinement under these harsh conditions, Nik was repeatedly subjected to lengthy interrogations, during which he was accused of working with foreign agencies against Iran and of being a spy," Judge Huvelle recounts in the ruling. "During these interrogations, he was both verbally threatened and mentally and physically abused. He was repeatedly told that he would be hanged. On more than one occasion, his left hand was cuffed to a railing on the wall or a bar while he was on the floor, forcing him to contort his body into an extremely painful position. He would be left alone in that position for extended periods of time."

According to the ruling, after months of torture - which included being shown pictures of murdered bodies, prison guards urinating on his face, and being beaten and sexually assaulted - Moradi started confessing to espionage in hopes his captors would kill him.

But instead an Iranian judge found him not guilty and his family posted a $500,000 bond to have him released.

The physical and psychological torture had its affects on Moradi and his wife, though, costing the couple their "happy life" in America.

The couple also says they lost money while Moradi was jailed because Deborah Moradi had to close her husband's clothing store for a time

They asked for $10,000 for every day that he was confined, over a million dollars for lost revenue at his store and $300 million in punitive damages based on a similar case where the victim was a hostage of a terrorist group funding by Iran.

The judge gave the family $10.168 million in compensatory damages - $6.1 million for pain and suffering plus $4 million in solatium damages - and $10.168 in punitive damages, ruling that the $300 million figure was based on the Iran's funding of the terrorist group.

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