Israeli activist legal center Shurat Hadin and New York attorney Robert Tolchin filed a lawsuit at an New York district court asking for an injunction to halt the U.S. from releasing over $100 billion in frozen Iranian assets as part of the pending nuclear deal with Iran, the New York Observer reported on Tuesday.
The lawsuit names two dozen plaintiffs who were victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism between 1995 and 2006, and the State and Treasury departments as well as their current secretaries, John Kerry and Jack Lew, respectively, are listed as defendants. Kerry and Lew were crucial in framing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) with Iran that would release at least $56 billion in frozen Iranian assets in exchange for some restrictions and monitoring of Iran’s vexed nuclear program.
The plaintiffs together hold $1 billion in claims against the Iranian government, and apparently they fear the windfall cash destined for Iran upon implementation of the JCPoA will strip them of their best leverage for getting Tehran to pay up.
Tolchin was convinced that the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 ensured that the law was on the plaintiffs’ side; the law allows victims of terrorism to claim their compensation from blocked funds.
“Blocking is not just about depriving the terrorist state of those assets. It also allows the victims who have won judgments and gone through all the anguish and emotional baggage to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
The State Department, meanwhile, told Fox News there was no connection between sanctions relief based on the internationally-brokered nuclear deal with Iran and any outstanding court judgments.
The attempt to target the blocked funds is the latest initiative by attorneys to hold Iran accountable for sponsoring terrorist activities that have claimed hundreds of American lives. Many are awaiting the sale of a skyscraper at 650 Fifth Avenue in New York City, which a judge awarded to plaintiffs in a landmark case against Iran.