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Ali Herischi

The state of human rights in the Islamic Republic has been criticized by Iranians and The United Nations General Assembly. The Human Rights Commission has condemned prior and ongoing abuses in Iran in published critiques and several resolutions. The Islamic Republic remains one of the world’s worst abusers of human rights. However, the sole purpose of this study is to address the widespread concern of Iranian American community regarding the news of filed lawsuits of compensation claims on frozen Iranian assets by Mr. Ali Herischi. Several notable cases were filed in the D.C. District Court against the Islamic Republic and its leadership by Ali Herischi, on behalf of M.s Mehrangiz Kar, Ms. Banafshe Zand-Bonazzi, Ms. Masih Alinejad,Mr. Mehdi Saharkhiz, and Mr. Akbar Lakestani. U.S-based Iranian human rights activists, who operate under the guise of Human Rights activism. (1)
The case of Masih (aka Masoumeh) Alinejad will be examined in a separate study.

It should be noted, if successful in court, hundreds of millions of dollars in damages must be paid to these plaintiffs from the frozen assets of the Iranian people in the United States.
Subject to the Vienna Convention on Succession of States in respect of State Property relating to the rights and obligations of States properties, it should be cognizant that compensations must be paid to the plaintiffs. (2)
And if the government is succeeded by a new government in Iran, a new case must be presented to the court, and a new criminal case is instituted.

Ali Herischi: legal activities and clients

Mr. Herischi has represented a wide range of clients. In his most recent case, he represented individuals suing the Islamic Republic in The U.S. federal courts seeking monetary compensation for their suffering at the hands of the Islamic Republic. Specifically, he is petitioning the courts to divert frozen Iranian assets to compensate his clients a move that has been heavily criticized by both the Iranian-American community.
Mr. Herischi is a graduate of the University Of Maryland School Of Law. He began his legal practice as an immigration lawyer and has appeared on Deutsche Welle Radio, VOA, BBC, and other major media outlets.
Many of the activist journalists employed by the mentioned platforms have a history of working for propaganda arms of various factions of the Islamic Republic regime and are well known among the Iranian-American community for promoting fraudsters and conmen.

One of Mr. Herischi's clients is named Isa Saharkhiz, who was referred to the court in August 2010. On behalf of his client, Isa Saharkhiz, who is a supporter of the reformist party and had a fall out with the regime, Mr. Herischi has submitted an official complaint to the U.S. federal court in the state of Virginia. It alleges that Saharkhiz was tortured and mistreated because the government monitored his conversations, and accuses Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) of providing the Islamic Republic telecommunications system that was used to spy on the opposition Green Movement, including Isa Saharkhiz, leading to his arrest.
Isa Saharkhiz, former head of the press department at the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Education during Khatami's administration. He worked in Iran for IRNA (Iran's Official News Agency) as a reporter and economic expert from 1982 until 1992, when the head of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Mohammad Khatami, resigned. The ministry was in charge of IRNA, and Saharkhiz had gotten to know Khatami. After Khatami's resignation, Saharkhiz moved to the United States for five years to run IRNA's office in New York. When Khatami was elected president in 1997, Saharkhiz returned to Iran and was put in charge of domestic publications under the new minister, Ata'ollah Mohajerani. After Saharkhiz left the ministry, he founded a daily called Economic News, which had a reformist and critical view of the management of the economy. (3)

In the following sections, we will take a brief look at the records of unsavory actors under the guise of human rights activism.


Ali Herischi’s Relationships

Ali Herischi was the founder of the 'U.S. Iran People Friendship Society, Inc.' in April 2015. The association introduces its goal as developing and strengthening the friendship and the mutual understanding between the people of Iran and the U.S However, it is fully involved in political issues.
The said association organized a celebration on the occasion of the discussion on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and had earlier congratulated the two nations of Iran and the United States on signing the JCPOA. (F-1)
Mr. Herischi also maintained a close tie with NIAC, the unofficial lobby of the Islamic Republic, and had participated in the 2018 Nowruz ceremony, attended by members of NIAC and PAAIA. (F-2), (F-3)

F-1 Congratulation message on JCPOA by US Iran People Friendship Society

F-2 NIAC and PAAIA co-hosted celebration

F-32018 Nowruz celebration Co-hosted by NIAC and PAAIA

The case of Palm Plus Hotel

In 2017, a lawsuit was filed on charges of a $50 million fraud, theft, and conspiracy against a number of fraudsters working on a hotel project, who were accused of embezzling $ 50 million from Iranian and Chinese citizens as an investment in the construction of a hotel primarily based in Palm Beach County, Florida. Conspired on foreign nationals desirous of leaving foreign countries, such as China and Iran, to provide their families with the opportunity for a better life in the United States through the EB-5 program, the defendants conspired to fraudulently induce each plaintiff to each invest $500,000, plus a $40,000 "administrative fee," into a purported Palm Beach real estate project, known as the "Palm House Hotel.
According to the Complaint, Plaintiffs are the victims of a $50 million fraud, theft, and conspiracy, in which a web of individuals, including Mr. Herischi and his law firm -. Herischi & Associates LLC- served as a key agent for inducing the Iranian victims to provide and continue their investments.
In exchange for his delivery of the Iranian Plaintiffs into the scheme, Mr. Herischi and his law firm received, among other things, an undisclosed secret kickback of $40,000.00 per investor and an additional $ 20,000 administrative fee from each investor as their attorney.
All the defendants in the above case were convicted and found guilty in court. Ali Herischi was also reprimanded for the charge. (Figures

F-4 submitted lawsuit against Herischi and his law firm

F-5 submitted lawsuit against Herischi and his law firm

F-6submitted lawsuit against Herischi and his law firm

F-7submitted lawsuit against Herischi and his law firm

F-8 submitted lawsuit against Herischi and his law firm

Mehrangiz Kar

Ms. Mehrangiz Kar, who was married to Siamak Pourzand, has worked closely for many years with the reformist party of the Islamic Republic, along with her husband. Ms. Kar is the director of the Siamak Pourzand Foundation (SPF), a human rights lawyer, and a reformist political activist.
Although she claims the Islamic Republic has wronged her, she has had no problem participating in forums and discussion panels sponsored by the regime's lobbyists. She has been a prominent figure at group discussions and meetings of NIAC, a notorious organization among the Iranian-American community for parroting the regime's agenda and being an unofficial lobby of the Islamic Republic. (F-9)

F-9 Mehrangiz Kar in NIAC group discussions and meeting

While enjoying the backing of the reformist faction of the regime, Siamak Pourzand was the manager of the cultural center for writers, artists, and intellectuals and wrote a cultural commentary for several reformist newspapers.
When Pourzand was arrested in 2001, the reformist newspapers reported the incident, in which Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, Secretary of the Guardians' Council, condemned the reformists for taking up Pourzand's case at a sermon during Friday prayers in Tehran on July 27, 2002. (4)
When Pourzand had a fall out with the regime, he was placed under house arrest and was denied permission to leave the country.

While under house arrest for several years, he committed suicide by throwing himself off the balcony of a sixth-story apartment in Tehran and eventually died on 29 April 2011. (5)
Choosing to die by his own hands at the age of 80 has led to a lawsuit filed by Herischi & Association LLC, on July 11, 2019, to the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia, on behalf of his wife, Mehrangiz Kar, demanding to receive $ 336 million of blocked Iranian money as compensation for the suffering she has endured due to being away from her husband. (Figures 10, 11)

F-10 Compensation Request

F-11Compensation request of Mehrangiz Kar

Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi

On August 28, 2019, in a separate case from Mehrangiz Kar, a lawsuit was filed by Ms. Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, in the United States federal court. The plaintiff is seeking $500 million in punitive damages as compensation for her robbed happiness by the Islamic Republic. (6)

Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, the daughter of Siamak Pourzand, is a member of the Advisory Board of the International Press Freedom Association (7), filmmaker, writer, and human rights activist who added Bonazzi to her surname after marrying an Italian sociologist Elio Bonazzi.

She is the daughter of Siamak Pourzand from his first marriage to Mandana Zand-Karimi (Mandana Zand Ervin), who served as the first female head of Iran's Customs Administration before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, writer, founder, and president of the Alliance of Iranian Women, and the U.S representative to the U.N Commission on the Status of Women, during the presidency of George W. Bush. (8)

Akbar Lakestani

Akbar Lakestani chose Herischi & Associates to file a $ 50 million lawsuit seeking compensation and $ 300 million in fines from Iranian frozen assets.
Akbar Lakestani is the former head of the Showt Islamic Council in West Azerbaijan Province.
He was arrested on charges of "insulting the leadership" and "propaganda against the regime." and was arrested in 2007. He was sentenced to three years in prison by the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal and sent to Maku Prison to carry out the sentence. He was released only after several months, citing medical reports, and was temporarily released on bail. On June 20, 2009, he left Iran for the first time and traveled to the United States, where he planned to seek asylum.
Claiming in his statements that his life would be in imminent danger if he returned to Iran, Mr. Lakestani traveled to Iran on September 28, 2019, to visit his mother, which led to his second arrest at the Serow border by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.
Lakestani was released from prison after a while and fled Iran to the United States in February 2020.
But having returned to Iran in 2019 is thought-provoking and begs the question why Mr.Lakestani returned to Iran after a few years despite being granted asylum on the grounds of danger to his life in the event of returning. (9)

Abbas Amir-Entezam

On the commemoration of Amir-Entezam's death, Ardeshir, Anushirvan, and Elham Amir-Entezam, the children of Amir-Entezam, filed a petition for compensation in a branch of the U.S Federal Court. (10) The plaintiffs have demanded hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, which, if agreed in court, would be paid to them from the blocked assets of the Iranian people in the United States.
Mr. Abbas Amir-Entezam was arrested and sentenced to death in November 1979 on charges of espionage and collaboration with the "American government." After protesting for life imprisonment, the court alleviated the sentence.
Mr. Amir-Entezam had developed a business in partnership with his friend and mentor, Mehdi Bazargan, whom had later appointed Amir-Entezam as the head of the political bureau of the Freedom Movement of Iran in December 1978, replacing Mohammad Tavasoli.
When revolutionary leader Ruhollah Khomeini took control, Bazargan appointed Amir-Entezam to be the deputy prime minister and the official spokesperson for the new government, while being appointed prime minister of the provisional revolutionary government by Khomeini himself.

Mehdi Saharkhiz

Mehdi Saharkhiaz, the son of Isa Saharkhiz, in a Tweet, mentioned a discussion he had with Mr. Herischi, (F-12) who reached out to Mehdi Saharkhiz, urging him to file a lawsuit against the Islamic Republic for compensatory, and punitive damages.
Hassan Rouhani held a reception for about 20 people on 26 September 2013, which Mr. Saharkhiz and his wife attended and took a souvenir photo with Javad Zarif, albeit the allegations of being wronged by the Islamic Republic and his father's trial, keeping his ties with the reformist party to this day as a U.S citizen living in the United States.
During the presidency of Mohammad Khatami, Mehdi Saharkhiz and Maryam Razani-Saharkhiz asked Khatami to be the officiant of their wedding ceremony, as the Saharkhiz family was closely associated with Khatami. (Figures 13-14)

Mr. Mehdi Saharkhiz had received multiple job opportunities through nepotism on government-sponsored broadcasting networks by his father, Isa Saharkhiz, a reformist and former head of the press department at the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Education during Khatami's administration. (11)
Isa Saharkhiz had always been backed by the reformist party before his arrest, and the reformists never stopped supporting the Saharkhiz family, and based on the available evidence, neither did the Islamic Republic.

F-12 Mehdi Saharkhiz tweet on his conversation with Herischi

F-13the date of Mehdi Saharkhiz and Maryam Razani’s marriage

F-13 Having Khatami as their wedding officiant

F-14 from left to right, Javad Zarif, Mehdi Saharkhiz, Maryam Razani-Saharkhiz.

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