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U.S. Allowed Into Iran-Linked Defamation Case

MANHATTAN (CN) - The chance that defamation claims against an anti-Iran group will compromise national security warrant government intervention, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos' 2-page order does not clarify much for court-watchers who have wondered what a libel case between private parties has to do with the national security.

Victor Restis, a 46-year-old shipping executive, sued the Manhattan-based nonprofit United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) after the group targeted him last year in a series of press campaigns depicting him as a sanction-buster.

Restis alleges that the anti-Iran group defamed him, hurt his business and insulted his Jewish heritage by labeling him a "front-man" for the Islamic Republic's oil industry in a "name and shame" press campaign.

UANI insists that it accused Restis based on solid information, and noted that he faces criminal prosecution for money laundering in his native Greece.

U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos recently allowed the case to proceed, but it still faces dismissal if the U.S. attorneys can convince him that the case's revelations would pose a security threat.

Ramos allowed the United States to intervene by agreement of both parties on Thursday afternoon.

The two-page ruling does not indicate whether he will dismiss the case at the prosecutors' request.

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