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Posted: April 20, 2014

Iran slams seizure of NYC skyscraper to compensate victims of terrorism

Cassio Vasconcellos
(Getty)

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            Iran slams seizure of NYC skyscraper to compensate victims of terrorism
(Getty)

By Elizabeth Hagedorn

​It’s a Fifth Avenue skyscraper that houses Godiva and Juicy Couture, but the U.S. government says those tenants work inside a building with links to terrorism. 

Iran is condemning a U.S. court order requiring the owners of a 36-story New York City skyscraper to compensate victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism. (Via PressTV)   

It was built in the 1970s by a nonprofit with ties to the Shah of Iran. Prosecutors said the building’s owners violated U.S. sanctions by funneling millions in rental income to Iran’s state-owned bank. (ViaWYNW)

​In September, a U.S. district judge ordered the building be confiscated in what would mark the U.S. government's largest-ever terrorism-related forfeiture. This week, a U.S. court ruled proceeds of that sale will go to families affected by Iran-sponsored terrorism.

That includes those killed in the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. (Via U.S. Marine Corps)

And the Khobar Towers U.S. Air Force bombing in 1996. WPIX spoke with one of the attorneys representing the families of terrorist attacks victims. (Via U.S. Department of Defense)

“What this shows is that an aggressive litigation strategy where lawyers go and pursue assets and find those assets. That can work, and it’s worked here,” attorney Jamie Bernard said.

​But Iran says the case is based on trumped up charges. It maintains the building promotes the Persian language and Islamic culture, and its seizure would violate the owner's right to religious freedom.

The BBC quotes a spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry who described the seizure of the building as politically motivated and said it “raises doubt about the credibility of U.S. justice."

The news comes at a tense time for the U.S. and Iran. On Friday, President Barack Obama signed a law barring an Iranian diplomat from entering the country. This, over the man's alleged links to the Iranian hostage crisis. (Via Jewish News One)

Proceeds of the sale are expected to be divided among the families within the next year. The Alavi Foundation is expected to appeal the verdict.

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