Iran ordered to pay £1 billion to family of kidnapped FBI agent presumed dead

A US judge has ordered Iran to pay 1.45 billion dollars (£1.12 billion) to the family of a former FBI agent believed to have been kidnapped while on an unauthorised CIA mission.

Robert Levinson’s family and the US government now believe he died in the Iranian government’s custody, something long denied by Tehran, though officials have offered contradictory accounts about what happened to him on Kish Island.

Tensions remain high between the US and Iran amid US President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Though the US and Iran have not had diplomatic relations since the aftermath of the 1979 US Embassy hostage crisis in Tehran, America stills holds billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets that could be used to pay Mr Levinson’s family.

In a ruling from Thursday, the US District Court in Washington found Iran owed Mr Levinson’s family 1.35 billion dollars (£1.05 billion) in punitive damages and 107 million dollars (£82 million) in compensatory damages for his kidnapping.

The court cited the case of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who died in 2017 shortly after being freed from captivity in North Korea, in deciding to award the massive amount of punitive damages to Mr Levinson’s family.

Judge Timothy Kelly said: “Iran’s conduct here is also unique, given that – astonishingly – it plucked a former FBI and DEA special agent from the face of the earth without warning, tortured him, held him captive for as long as 13 years, and to this day refuses to admit its responsibility.

“And his wife and children, and their spouses and children – while keeping Levinson’s memory alive – have had to proceed with their lives without knowing his exact fate. These are surely acts worthy of the gravest condemnation.”

Iranian state media and officials in Tehran did not immediately acknowledge the ruling in a case in which Iran offered no defence and Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

In a statement, Mr Levinson’s family called the court’s award “the first step in the pursuit of justice”.

It said: “Until now, Iran has faced no consequences for its actions.

“Judge Kelly’s decision won’t bring Bob home, but we hope that it will serve as a warning against further hostage taking by Iran.”

Mr Levinson disappeared from Iran’s Kish Island on March 9, 2007.

For years, US officials would only say that Mr Levinson, a meticulous FBI investigator credited with busting Russian and Italian mobsters, was working for a private firm on his trip.

In December 2013, it was revealed Mr Levinson in fact had been on a mission for CIA analysts who had no authority to run spy operations.

Read more: Nazanin Zaghari-Radcliffe “handcuffed and shackled at the ankles” says Labour MP

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Categories: CIA spy, FBI agent, Iran ordered, Mr Levinson, News, punitive damages, Robert Levinson

Upstander removed neo-Nazi sticker near bus stop in south-west London

A member of the public removed a neo-Nazi sticker with their house keys after spotting it on a phone box on a residential road in south-west London today.

Speaking to Tell MAMA, the upstander, who spoke on the promise of anonymity, described how they had been rushing to catch the bus on Rochester Row when the sticker caught their eye, which caused them to stop and remove it, adding their anger at how emboldened such groups felt in spreading their racist propaganda and seeking to spread division amongst the diverse communities in the area.

The sticker reads “Close Our Borders” and promotes a fringe but rather infamous neo-Nazi group named the Pie and Mash Squad. A group which years ago, arose from the far-right English football hooligan scene and over the subsequent years morphed into a white supremacist group, which uses Telegram to spread violent and harmful neo-Nazi propaganda, and along with other far-right and neo-Nazi groups in the targeting of refugees, Muslims, and other minorities.

Those affiliated with the Pie and Mash Squad also joined with other far-right groups and neo-Nazis to blockade roads during anti-refugee protests in Dover last month.

After a fan had made the football club Everton aware of similar stickers appearing outside of Goodison Park, the club condemned the stickers and confirmed that it would be working to remove them and ensuring that staff are vigilant to their potential presence. Local MPs and the Mayor of Liverpool also condemned the far-right and neo-Nazi stickers, after they also appeared near Anfield, home of Liverpool FC earlier this year.

Back in 2016, Tell MAMA highlighted how a flag of this group appeared at a far-right anti-mosque rally in Bolton in November, alongside members of the neo-Nazi group National Action, who, just weeks later, would become the first far-right and neo-Nazi terrorist organisation proscribed under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Months prior, the threat of public agitations from the Pie and Mash Squad and the South Coast Resistance caused the cancellation of a public celebration of Eid in Southampton in July 2016.

Shere Sattar, chairman of the British Bangladesh Cultural Academy, who organised the event, said at the time: “We have considered the political situation and unrest in UK after leaving the EU, the rise of racist activity and comments around other cities around the country, and Pie and Mash deciding to visit Southampton.”

Tell MAMA has made the Metropolitan Police aware of the sticker.

You can get advice from our confidential and free helpline on 0800 456 1226. Or through our free iOS or Android apps. Report through our online form. Or contact us via WhatsApp on 0734 184 6086.


The post Upstander removed neo-Nazi sticker near bus stop in south-west London appeared first on TELL MAMA.

Categories: London, Metropolitan Police, Neo-Nazi, News, sticker