Publishe Date: 9:22 PM - 4/19/2014 | Print

Iran slams US court ruling to expropriate NY tower

Politics - Tehran has slammed as illegal a US court ruling to confiscate the assets of Alavi Foundation in Manhattan, saying the move runs counter to the principle of religious freedom for American citizens.

“The recent ruling regarding the forfeiture of the assets belonging to the foundation is, to all appearances, in contradiction to realities, void of legal validity and even in breach of US commitments to guarantee religious freedom for its citizens,” Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said in a Friday statement.

“Contrary to the prosecutors’ baseless allegations and the court’s politically-motivated ruling which was a propaganda fuss, the Alavi Foundation is an independent charity institution in the US which has no links with Iran,” she added.

Afkham noted that Iran has been a victim of terrorism itself, dismissing as ridiculous the US court’s claim that Tehran was involved in the 9/11 attacks.

She argued that the US court verdict brings the credibility of the US judicial system into question.

On Thursday, Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said that federal judge Katherine Forrest approved a deal between the US government and 19 anti-Iran plaintiffs to sell Alavi Foundation’s 36-story Manhattan skyscraper on Fifth Avenue and other properties owned by Iran, following a 2008 lawsuit by the government against the building's owners.

Under the deal, the US Marshals Service will sell the 36-story building and other so-called Iran-linked property in California, Maryland, Texas, Virginia and the Queens borough of New York. US authorities will also receive the contents of bank accounts of the entities which allegedly served as Iran fronts in the past.

The US government will receive reimbursement for litigation expenses and any costs of the sales and the remainder will be distributed among what the court has called terror-attack victims, including those of the 9/11 attacks and their survivors.

In September 2013, the judge had ruled in favor of the government's suit, claiming the building's owners had violated Iran sanctions and money laundering laws.

Prosecutors allege the building's owners, the Alavi Foundation -- a non-profit organization promoting the Islamic culture and Persian language -- and Assa Corporation, transferred rental income and other funds to Iran.
 

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