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Terror victims’ families sue to stop US releasing billions to Iran

The plaintiffs are owed more than $400 million in judgments against the Tehran regime.

Terrorists outside the U.S. embassy in Tehran, where diplomats were being held hostage, 1979. Photo by Abbas Attar via Wikimedia Commons.
Terrorists outside the U.S. embassy in Tehran, where diplomats were being held hostage, 1979. Photo by Abbas Attar via Wikimedia Commons.

As the Biden administration, as part of a prisoner swap with Tehran, prepares to unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian funds held in overseas banks, legal efforts have begun to challenge a decision decried for its potential to fuel further terrorism.

Shurat HaDin—Israel Law Center filed the lawsuit against the State Department and the Treasury Department on behalf of 24 plaintiffs to whom Iran owes $400 million in judgments for sponsoring terrorist attacks.

The suit asserts that the deal to transfer money to Iran disrupts the plaintiffs’ efforts to enforce their claims, potentially permanently.

“If ransom money is being transferred to Iran to secure the release of certain victims of the Iranian regime being held hostage there, that money should not be taken away from other victims of Iran’s atrocities,” said New York attorney Robert J. Tolchin, who filed the suit along with Shurat HaDin president Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.

“Leave this money for the victims, which is what Congress intended when it enacted legislation to allow terror victims to enforce their judgments against blocked assets of state sponsors of terrorism,” Tolchin said.

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