Iranian Torture Victims Denied Relief in Lawsuit

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A group of former Iranian nationals tortured in a Tehran prison cannot sue their homeland in the United States because they weren’t Americans at the time of their abuse, a federal judge ruled.
     Three of the plaintiffs are siblings who now live in the U.S. They sued the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Sayid Ali Hoseyni Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution under the Alien Tort Statute, describing years of horrific torture. The trio purports to represent Akbar Mahammadi, a fourth sibling who died in custody.
     They argue that the physical injuries from which they continue to suffer, along with the echoes of their ordeals that still haunt their lives, constitute a continuation of their torture, but U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell disagreed and dismissed the case Friday for lack of jurisdiction.
     “The necessary result of this conclusion is that all of the plaintiffs’ claims must be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction because the plaintiffs cannot demonstrate that any of the enumerated exceptions to immunity contained in the FSIA apply to the this case,” he wrote.
     One of the plaintiffs says he and Mahmammadi were arrested and detained as college students for protesting the Iranian government.
     He says they were brutally tortured while incarcerated.
     “The physical torture consisted of … flogging the brothers with cables, hanging them from the ceiling by their hands for hours on end, depriving them of sleep, exposing them to the elements in their prison cells, burning their genitals with a cigarette lighter, and beating them to the point of unconsciousness,” Howell wrote, summarizing the complaint.
     One of the also plaintiffs testified that the torture resulted in permanent damage to his body and mental state, resulting in nine missing teeth and an inability to enjoy life.
     Judge Howell conceded that he was moved by the plaintiff’s testimony, but he refused to accept the argument that continued problems experienced by the plaintiffs constitute torture.

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