WASHINGTON (CN) — An Iranian national granted asylum in the U.S. was arrested by the Iranian government, held for eight months in a secret prison and was brutally beaten and tortured before being released to return to the U.S., the man claims in court.
Farzad Khosravi sued the Iranian government in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Monday and is seeking to recover $40 million in damages for the time he spent in the secret 209 Evin Prison in Tehran.
After spending 32 months stranded in Iran trying to negotiate with the government to return the passport it confiscated when he arrived, Khosravi went to the Tehran airport on May 12, 2015, thinking he would finally be able to return to his home in Atlanta, he claims.
Instead, three plain-clothes security agents for Iran's Ministry of Intelligence allegedly arrested him, telling him he was being charged with murder. Khosravi says he was blindfolded, handcuffed and beaten unconscious, all on the mistaken belief that he had passed secret information to the U.S. Government.
Khosravi allegedly spent the next eight months in solitary confinement before being released as part of the prisoner swap with Iran in January that included Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.
Khosravi was born in Iran in 1959 and was granted political asylum in 1983 after the being arrested in Iran for his opposition to the government, according to the 10-page complaint.
He moved to Atlanta and became a citizen in 1991.
In August 2012 Khosravi decided, after 29 years living and working in the United States, to take a two-month trip to Iran to visit his family and friends, according to the complaint.
But the trip stretched from two months to more than two years when Khosravi claims government agents seized his passport when he tried to leave the airport upon arriving in Tehran.
The passport had expired by the time the government returned it 32 months later, but Khosravi was eventually able to get a new one and plan his trip back to Atlanta. But Khosravi's problems were only just beginning, as three government agents arrested him once he arrived at the airport to go home, Kosravi claims in the complaint.
He was sent away to 209 Evin Prison, a secret detention facility in Tehran, where he was placed in a "rodent and bug infested" cell that measured three feet by five feet, Khosravi says.
During his eight months in custody Khosravi received regular beatings intercut with 65 hours of interrogations, during which he was shocked with a taser on the legs and head.
"Mr. Khosravi was subjected to brutal beatings by agents of the Iran's Ministry of Intelligence," Khosravi claims in the complaint. "The agents also subjected him to mental abuse and death threats. Mr. Khosravi was hit repeatedly with bats and hard metal objects."
Khosravi claims a judge once sentenced him to receive 80 lashes for admitting during one torture session that he had once consumed alcohol. Another judge told Khosravi before his trial that he would be sentenced to death and accused him of being a spy for the United States.
Months ahead of his scheduled April trial, the United States came to Khosravi's rescue, making him part of a prisoner swap on January 16, 2016. In exchange for Khosravi and four other Americans, the United States granted clemency to seven Iranians it had either indicted or imprisoned, according to the complaint.
The deal also occurred at the same time that the government released frozen Iranian assets in the United States, according to the complaint.
Though Khosravi has returned home, he now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and other physical and mental health problems.
"He now suffers from a nerve injury in his left leg. His right shoulder is damaged. His left eye is damaged and is severely impaired," the complaint states. "He has double vision and suffers from night blindness in that eye. His right eye was also damaged. He lost his sense of smell. He suffers from headaches and migraines and a stomach ulcer. He suffers from nightmares as a result of the beatings and torture and wakes up to fears of being tortured again."
Khosravi seeks $40 million in compensatory and punitive damages under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
Danny Onorato, a Washington attorney with the firm Schertler Onorato, represents Khosravi and did not respond to request for comment before this story was published.
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