A group of high-profile Iranians in exile and former hostages of the Islamic Republic have filed a federal civil complaint against Ebrahim Raisi in the Southern District of New York.
The move comes a week before Raisi is due to attend the UN General Assembly and give an address in person for the first time since he became president of Iran last summer.
The plaintiffs include the British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a Belgian resident and ex-hostage Hamid Babaei, and ex-Shiraz City Councillor Mehdi Hajati. They will be represented by the Iranian-American human rights lawyer Shahin Milani.
A statement released this week by the National Union for Democracy in Iran, which is supporting the claim, said it would allege “violations of the Torture Victim Protection Act and torture, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery, and false imprisonment”.
Ebrahim Raisi oversaw a number of extrajudicial executions in Iran in his early career as a postrevolutionary prosecutor.
He then infamously sat on the Tehran “death panel”, which sent hundreds and potentially thousands of political detainees in Evin and Gohardasht Prisons for systematic execution in 1988 on the orders of Ayatollah Khomeini.
As chief justice from 2019 to 2021, he presided over systemic mass atrocities enacted on the Iranian population during and after the November 2019 protests, kidnappings of dissidents overseas, and numerous incidences of hostage-taking.
In a short message posted on Twitter on Thursday, Dr. Moore-Gilbert, who was released in a prisoner swap in November 2020, said: “Iranian President Raisi was the head of judiciary during my sham trial and bogus conviction for 'espionage' in a Revolutionary Court in 2019.
“Myself and other victims are suing him in New York under the Torture Victim Protection Act.”