Federal judge dismisses lawsuit to protect US secrets on Iran
Federal judge dismisses lawsuit to protect US secrets on Iran

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] dismissed [order, PDF] a lawsuit against an anti-Iran advocacy group on Monday, claiming the case could raise national security risks by revealing state secrets. The order stems from a defamation lawsuit filed by Greek shipping company owner Victor Restis against United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) [advocacy website], a US not-for-profit organization that advocates against Iran’s nuclear program. Restis alleged that UANI defamed him by connecting his company to Iranian companies involved with the country’s nuclear program. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] used the state secret privilege to intervene, which allows the government to step in and dismiss lawsuits to protect information regarding national security. Judge Edgardo Ramos approved the DOJ’s intervention but noted the “harsh sanction” for Restis because here the plaintiffs “not only do not get their day in court, but cannot be told why.” Nevertheless the court held the dismissal appropriate because “there is no intermediate solution that would allow this litigation to proceed while also safeguarding the secrets at issue.”

The US continues to negotiate with Iran regarding its nuclear program. Earlier this month US and France agreed to strengthen nuclear talks [JURIST report] with Iran in negotiations to persuade Iran to restrain its nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions. In August the US National Security Council announced [JURIST report] that the White House placed new sanctions on more than 30 organizations and individuals with ties to Iran. Iran has been subject to numerous sanctions for its contentious nuclear program, although some commentators doubt the efficacy of such sanctions [JURIST op-ed]. Last month the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) [official website] condemned [JURIST report] Iran for violating its duties under the Joint Plan of Action, whereby Iran has agreed to expand its nuclear program peacefully. Iranian leaders have repeatedly claimed that the developing nuclear program is for peaceful purposes [JURIST report], but the international community, Israel in particular [JURIST op-ed], worries that Iran’s enrichment program was designed for military purposes.