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US upholds ruling to seize Bank Melli Iran’s assets

The US Supreme Court has turned down Bank Melli Iran’s appeal against American claims to millions of dollars of the state-owned lender’s frozen assets held abroad.

According to Press TV, a number of Americans have been seeking $17.6 million of Iranian assets which Visa Inc and Franklin Resources Inc owe to Bank Melli.

They are among some 90 Americans who have been granted by a US lower court to seek nearly $1 billion of Iranian money in compensation for its alleged role in militant attacks.

The US Supreme Court on Monday upheld court judgments in four lawsuits against Iran for its alleged complicity in various attacks between 1990 and 2002, a report said.

The plaintiffs include people injured or relatives of people killed in attacks including the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers residence at a US military base in Saudi Arabia, the 1990 killing of militant US-born rabbi Meir Kahane in New York City, and two bombings in al-Quds in 2001 and 2002, Reuters reported.

In its appeal to the US Supreme Court, Bank Melli had argued that its funds frozen due to US sanctions against Iran were owed by Visa and Franklin and could not be seized.

Iran’s assets held in foreign banks have been subject to a witch hunt by the Americans who have used Washington’s animosity toward the Islamic Republic to easily win lawsuits against the country in US courts.

Last month, a set of “plaintiffs” sought to seize priceless Persian artifacts held at a Chicago museum to satisfy a separate $71.5 million court judgment against Iran but their bid was blocked on appeal by the Iranian government and University of Chicago.

The antiquities, including a set of 300 ancient Iranian tablets, were loaned to the university for study before the Islamic Revolution in 1979 when Iran and the US were close allies.

Iran has denounced US seizures of its frozen assets as “highway robbery” and pledged to haul the United States before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague.

Last April, a federal judge in New York ordered Tehran to pay $11 billion in compensation to victim families of the 9/11 attacks which were allegedly carried out by al-Qaeda – a sworn enemy of Iran and Iranians.

“I have lost every respect for US justice. The judgment by the Supreme Court and the other, even more absurd judgment by a New York circuit court deciding that Iran should pay damages for 9/11 are the height of absurdity,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said then.

“How would you explain Iran being held accountable for the damages to the victims of 9/11—and others being absolved of any responsibility, those who were actually responsible for it?” he said apparently referring to Saudi Arabia.

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