Akbar Lakestani Filed an Action Against Government of Iran, Supreme Leader, and IRGC's Leader for Torture in Federal Court Under FSIA.
August 31, 2021
Washington, DC, August 31, 2021 -- Mr. Akbar Lakestani, who is an Iranian-American journalist and human rights activist, filed a complaint (Case #: 1:21-cv-2232) against the Islamic Republic of Iran, Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and IRGC Commander-in-Chief Hossein Salami for allegedly subjecting him to hostage taking, torture, the denial and delay of medical treatment, attempts to extract coerced false confessions, the denial of due process, and other torts against him.
The following six paragraphs cite some of the allegations from the complaint:
Mr. Lakestani traveled from the U.S. to Iran in September 2019 to visit his elderly mother. Upon crossing the border from Turkey into Iran, he was arrested by Iranian law enforcement officers and accused of speaking out against the Iranian regime. He was repeatedly blindfolded, taken to different detention facilities, denied his diabetes medication, and interrogated.
After being transferred to the IRGC-controlled Central Prison of Urmia in October 2019, he was placed in a hall with prisoners who had been charged with violent criminal offenses. As a result of the unsafe prison conditions, Mr. Lakestani begged in vain to be placed in solitary confinement. He was subsequently charged with cooperating with anti-regime groups and insulting the Supreme Leader.
Mr. Lakestani carried out multiple hunger strikes in response to unsafe prison conditions. After falling unconscious during a hunger strike, he was taken to Imam Khomenei Hospital. There, authorities beat him while his hands and feet were shackled to the hospital bed. Further, he was injected with an unknown substance that rendered him unconscious and transferred to a section of the hospital designated for prisoners, which was windowless and visibly unsanitary.
He was then transferred to Razi Psychiatric Hospital where he was placed in the most dangerous section with violent and unstable patients. He was given medications not prescribed or identified to him, which caused him to sleep excessively. His hands and feet were cuffed so tightly, causing severe shoulder pain and his feet to bleed and become infected.
On November 13, 2019, news of his arrest became widespread and he was temporarily released on bail. While he was subsequently interrogated by the Iranian authorities at least six times, he fled Iran and returned to the U.S. in February 2020.
Today, Mr. Lakestani continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, a sleep disorder, and extreme physical pain caused by his hostage taking and torture by Iran and its agents.
This case is brought under the terrorism exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia through Mr. Lakestani’s attorney, Mr. Ali Herischi of Herischi & Associates, LLC. Mr. Lakestani is asking for compensatory and punitive damages. Mr. Herischi is hopeful that "this case will bring attention to the systematic human rights abuses and domestic terrorism by the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps."