The nonprofit United Against Nuclear Iran has called on the Biden administration not to grant Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi a visa to attend the upcoming UN General Assembly in New York.
In an op-ed published on Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal, chairman Joe Lieberman and CEO Mark Wallace said Raisi should be denied entry to the US due to “the bloody history of the president and the continued threats of the Islamic Republic against American citizens”.
In late summer 1988, Raisi is known to have sat on a four-member “death panel” that sent hundreds if not thousands of political detainees in Tehran to their deaths on the orders of Ayatollah Khomeini.
Aside from his role in the massacre Raisi oversaw post-1979 extrajudicial executions in other provinces in his early career as a prosecutor. Later he became Chief Justice of Iran, where he presided over a catalogue of extreme human rights violations.
Since Raisi assumed the presidency there have also been several reports of the Islamic Republic dispatching agents to abduct and kill perceived opponents on US soil.
These include two alleged plots targeting the famed women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad and, as of this week according to the Department of Justice, former national security advisor John Bolton.
Raisi is already sanctioned by the US due to human rights violations. Contrary to popular belief, despite being a sitting head of state he is not necessarily immune from prosecution by a third country for international crimes if he travels abroad.
The past few years have seen numerous high-profile cases brought against ex-Iranian officials, including Asadollah Asadi in Belgium and Hamid Nouri in Sweden.
The 77th session of the UN General Assembly is due to run from September 13 to 27. The US government has the power to block a given representative from attending, as was the case with the PLO’s Yasser Arafat until 1974 and Iran’s Hamid Aboutalebi in 2014.
Describing Ebrahim Raisi as a “hangman”, Lieberman and Wallace wrote: “Mr. Raisi is unlike any Iranian president to seek to visit Manhattan since Ali Khamenei became Supreme Leader in 1989.
“Mr. Biden’s duty, first and foremost, is to protect the American people. Congress has acknowledged this duty, granting the president authority to deny a visa to anyone for ‘security, terrorism, and foreign policy’ reasons.
“No treaty or UN host country agreement requires the US to admit Mr. Raisi. The president of a country actively seeking to assassinate American citizens on U.S. soil shouldn’t be allowed to enter the US at all.”
If the visit went ahead, the UANI said in a follow-up statement, it also called on Manhattan hotels, notably those that previously hosted Iranian delegations – the InterContinental New York Barclay, the Millennium Hilton, Warwick New York, and the former Hilton Manhattan East now owned by Westgate Resorts – to refuse to host “mass murderers” like Raisi and his cohort.