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Charged for UN Linked Iran Lobbying Afrasiabi Is Now on Hunger Strike Per Sealed Document

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Podcast
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

FEDERAL COURT, Feb 20 – A professor is charged with violation US law by lobbying for Iran and its Mission to the UN, including a US Congress members, without registering under the US Foreign Agents Registration Act. Now after he invoked the UN Charter and communications with the UN Secretary General in his defense, it appears he is on hunger strike.

The US Attorney for the EDNY has charged Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, also known as “Lotfolah Kaveh Afrasiabi,” with acting and conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in violation of FARA.  Full complaint on Patreon, here.

Afrasiabi was arrested on January 18 at his home in Watertown, Massachusetts, and appeared on January 19 in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts, before United States Magistrate Judge Jennifer C. Boal.  Inner City Press live tweeted it, here and below.

  Now on February 20, filed as a sealed documents, this one line description in the docket: "Letter Regarding Hunger Strike as to Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi (Von Dornum, Deirdre)." We'll have more on this - and on Afrasiabi's communications with the UN, on which UNSG Antonio Guterres and his spokepeople Stephane Dujarric and Melissa Fleming have refused to answer.

Afrasiabi wrote to the US Attorney's Office about the Iranian Mission to the UN and to help from the UN; Inner City Press has put it on Patreon here.

   Afrisaibi has filed with the EDNY court a one line email of support from Noam Chomsky - and a letter from Howard Zinn, albeit from 1998. We'll have more on this.

On February 10, EDNY Judge Korman held a Faretta hearing (under 422 U.S. 806) and loosened restrictions on Afrasiabi. Inner City Press live tweeted it here and below.

 Now on February 11, Afrasiabi has filed this: "Now comes the Defendant, Afrasiabi pro se, and hereby provides clarification with respect to the defamatory presentation of the Government at the hearing on February 10, 2021. At the said hearing, US Attorney Ian Richardson alluded to Afrasiabi’s “arrest records” and in particular to the charges of “harassment” and making “telephone calls” against him in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, attorney Richardson failed to clarify to the court that (a) there was no record of conviction and or any probation for the Defendant with respect to any of those charges, and (b) that those criminal proceedings had been resolved in favor of the Defendant, and moreover (c) Defendant had recovered $25000.00 monetary compensation for medical damages to him in one case (police brutality) and an out of court settlement and a letter of apology to him by his (harassment) accusers including Cambridge Police in the other case (in which Afrasiabi successfully filed a law suit in the federal court in Boston after being exonerated)." Attached? A story from "WickedLocal."

From February 10: EDNY District Judge Edward R. Korman is strongly advising Afrasiabi to *not* represent himself. Judge: I'm not sure you have any experience with juries in this district. I had a murder case where affluent defendant hired his own jury consultant to advise his lawyer

 Judge Korman: You have to develop a theory of the case, for an opening statement. Then you'd have to cross examine the witnesses against you, on the charge you were an unregistered agent of a foreign power. You'd need an experienced lawyer

Judge Korman: The Foreign Agent Registration Act is not a run of the mill statute, not similar to most cases in this District. The Supreme Court requires that you be fully apprised of what he or she is doing, without a lawyer. You don't have to tell me today

Judge Korman: Did you understand what I've said? I can't hear you. Afrasiabi: Your Honor, I want to express my utmost gratitude. I assure you I am in my full cognitive capacity in making the decision to represent myself in this case.

 Afrasiabi: I feel I should be in total candor with this court. My first reason is I am a political scientist, a veteran litigator (?). I have cross examined witnesses in a civil conspiracy case, and filed thousands of motions.

Afrasiabi: I have prevailed without a lawyer. My record against the government is four to zero. Now it will be five zero. I have been tarnished to the public. I write peer reviewed articles. On Google, it just says I am arrested. I must retrieve my name

 Afrasiabi: I had a part time consulting role with Iran, yes. My legacy is important to me. I know the law. Shakespeare said, There's no better sign of a brave mind than a hard hand. Judge Korman: You might be better off with a lawyer.

 Afrasiabi: I am aware of all the risks - the main risk is the humiliation of the prosecutors. I am battle hardened in the Federal courts. I will conduct myself with honor. Judge Korman: You don't want to think about it? Afrasiabi: There is no necessity for that.

 AUSA: He will be expected to comply with the Classified Information Procedures Act. Judge Korman: I don't have any idea how that would come into play here. But you'll have to comply with it. Afrasiabi: Yes, of course. I only request equal justice.

 Afrasiabi: I only want the same privileges as other lawyers, to valiantly defend myself. Judge Korman: You may have the privilege but not know how to use it. But you are doing so knowingly, you may represent yourself.

 Now the question of Afriasiabi's conditions of release. He can only leave his house four hours a week. Afrasiabi, it emerges, speaks Spanish: "Yo pienso, yo tengo the same concerns." There'll be a pause in the proceeding. Thread will continue.

Afrasiabi is back. He pleads not guilty.  AUSA: His conditions of release as the result of negotiation with his then retained counsel. To assure his appearance. There is a risk of flight.

 AUSA: This is more than a regulatory offense. He is charged with secretly working for the Iranian government for 15 years. He deceived editors and news media personalities. He did it for money.

AUSA: The Iranian government has condemned this prosecution, called him a hostage. The Iranian government does not want him detained. He dealt with the Permanent Representative to the United Nations [Inner City Press has asked  @AntonioGuterres  &  @UN_Spokesperson ]

AUSA: Afrasiabi could just walk into the Iranian Mission to the UN, which is diplomatic property. [It's on Third Ave near 40th Street. Inner City Press before ouster from UN by  @AntonioGuterres  went there for a press conference, watched journos eat out of hands

AUSA: He has emailed that he is a victim of human rights violations here. He owns no significant property here. His main employment has been with the Iranian Mission to the UN. Those who live in his house didn't sign the bond for him.

 AUSA: He is an alien, under FARA he is subject to removal by law. Moreover, it is unlikely he will continue to get paid by the Iranian Mission or anyone else. He was a paid agent of Iran.

AUSA: Afrisiabi has had multiple arrests for harassment in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We've reviewed the police reports. He commences frivolous civil actions against witnesses against him. This is not your typical defendant. His employer can help him flee.

Afrasiabi's stand-by / shadow counsel: He was paid by the Iranian Mission to the UN, by check, for 15 years. [UN Federal Credit Union was involved, but  @UN_Spokesperson   @StephDujarric ,  @MelissaFleming  and  @AntonioGuterres  have refused to answer]

Afrasiabi's stand-by / shadow counsel: He can't go to the library, he would have to have your Honor's permission to celebrate any holiday away from home. Judge Korman: I could add conditions... I don't see how a person of his age should be wandering around Boston.

 Afrasiabi: I have an academic book contract. I need to do bookstore research. I graduated Thayer Academy, I worked at Harvard. I wrote a book about the United Nations [!]

 Afrasiabi: I have complained to the UN Human Rights Council... I am defending the honor of others here. My part time consulting role for the UN... Iran ... what impact did it have? I urged the UN Secretary General [!]

Afrasiabi: I went on TV, I tried to free Mr. Levinson... I will deliver a humiliating defeat to the prosecution. Judge Korman: OK, he wants to leave his house to go to the library. I will allow that. Shadow: Widener Library is open until 10.

Afrasiabi's shadow counsel: How about he can go out for research activities? Judge Korman: Libraries or bookstores. There is, of course, Amazon. I think we're finished for today.

 But wait there's more: Afrasiabi suggested April 14 for next date. But Judge Korman will be sitting on the 9th Circuit then. So, April 21.

On January 29, as Inner City Press reported that day, it emerged that lobbyist Afrasiabi wants to represent himself. Judge Korman, ruling on Sunday, January 31, says that will have to await a Faretta hearing on February 10, not held in person as Afrasiabi requested:

"Kaveh Afrasiabi (the defendant)  The defendant subsequently emailed the U.S. Attorney that he intended to represent  himself. The email was then forwarded to me. I indicated that the defendant’s request to appear pro se would be addressed at the arraignment. The defendant has now requested that his arraignment be held in person. That request is denied. Although the defendant may have a right to an in-person arraignment (absent his consent to proceed via videoconference), Local Rule 50.2 requires only that the defendant be arraigned as “promptly as practicable,” and it is not currently practicable to hold an in-person arraignment because of the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions placed by the Chief Judge on in-person proceedings....

As for the defendant’s request to represent himself, I cannot permit him to do so without a hearing to ensure that he understands the “dangers and disadvantages of self-representation.” Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 835 (1975)."

Accompanying the January 29 arrest were some emails, now on Patreon here. Watch this site.

  Inner City Press will stay on this case.

 On the morning of January 19, given the multiple references in the complaint to the UN, Inner City Press in writing asked UN Sec-Gen Antonio Guterres and his spokespeople Stephane Dujarric and Melissa Fleming, "What are comments and actions if any of SG Guterres on today's EDNY indictment of Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, a/k/a “Lotfolah Kaveh Afrasiabi,” with acting and conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in violation of US FARA?"  

Hours later, no answer, on that, or the UN Federal Credit Union's role.  Inner City Press was by Guterres banned from attending the UN noon briefing to ask - this while the UN gives multiple taxpayer funded office to Iran state media.  No one else allowed in asked about the case.

In fact in the UN noon briefing Inner City Press was banned from, this from Iranian state media:

UN Spokesman Dujarric: Mohsen?     

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane. My question is about the Iran’s voting rights over unpaid dues. The Iranian officials say they have been in talks with the Secretariat for now to resolve this issue. Also, they believe the main problem is US [audio gap, inaudible] unilateral sanctions. Can you explain the latest developments and efforts that have been made to solve this problem? 

    Spokesman Dujarric:  There are two... thank you for the question. There are two separate issues. As you state, it is... we have, in fact, been in close touch with the Permanent Mission of Iran, as well as other relevant Iranian authorities. It's clear from our side that Iran is keen to find a way to pay into the UN budget. But, as you know, I think there... specific circumstances are making such payments difficult to transfer. But we have been in discussions; we will continue to be in discussions and we fully recognise the goodwill of the Iranian authorities to try to find a solution. We're all trying to find a solution.

  Today's UN is corrupt - Guterres only cares about getting money, not complying with any law.

 From the complaint:  

AFRASIABI received more than $265,000 from the IMUN in checks payable to him and drawn on official bank accounts held in the name of the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations. The memo lines of many of the most recently issued checks have explicitly described the payments as “salary.” 78. Many of the payments made to AFRASIABI by officials of the GOI assigned to the IMUN since 2012 have been drawn on the IMUN’s bank account at a financial institution in Long Island City in Queens, New York." 

Would that be the UN Federal Credit Union, about which Inner City Press has previously reported, before being banned by Guterres, now seeking a second term as UNSG? Watch this site.


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