Terror Victims Battle to Obtain Iranian Assets

Attorneys in historic case to seize 'internet assets' of state sponsors of terror seek deposition against ICANN internet domain registry.

Ari Soffer,

Iran played a key role in the Second Intifada
Iran played a key role in the Second Intifada
Flash 90

A group of American victims of terror and family members of those who have been injured in attacks sponsored by Iran, North Korea and Syria are taking on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) in an effort to seize those countries' internet assets in a move that could make legal history.

The Shurat Hadin legal rights group, which represents the plaintiffs, is demanding that ICANN produce information and key staff members to be deposed in Plaintiffs’ efforts to seize Iranian internet assets. The Plaintiffs have filed a motion seeking a Court order directing ICANN, an entity which controls and administers the Global Internet’s registry of names and numbers, to produce officials whom have vital information and evidence concerning the internet assets of Iran, North Korea and Syria. 

The Plaintiffs involved in the case hope to seize all the “country code top-level domain” (“ccTLD”) names - including .ir. sy, and .kp, as well as I.P. addresses being utilized by those governments and their agencies - as assets in order to force the terror-sponsoring regimes in question to hand over billions of dollars in compensation which US federal courts have said they must pay for their part in deadly Palestinian terrorist attacks. 

ICANN has refused to hand over the "digital assets", contending that such information does not legally qualify as seizable assets or properties owned by the respective governments.

Shurat HaDin for its part has responded, among other things, by claiming such a position is at odds with ICANN's own treatment of similar information belonging to the US government

If the Court agrees with Plaintiffs’ position, they will be able to seize ownership of the internet assets and sell them to the highest bidder, should the regimes in question not pay the compensation due voluntarily.

Attorney Darshan-Leitner, who founded and heads Shurat Hadin, reiterated that her clients' intentions are not to harm Iranian internet users but to receive justice for acts of terror committed against them and sponsored by the Iranian government.

"For years the Iranian government has refused to pay its judgments, thumbing its nose at these terror victims and the American court system," Darshan-Leitner said, noting that many her clients "continue to suffer from the suicide bombing that Iran financed in Jerusalem nearly seventeen years ago."

"It is not our intention to shut down Iran’s internet usage, but we want what is rightfully due. If by seizing any funds earned from these internet assets we can satisfy the judgments, we will have served our clients. We remain committed to helping these American families satisfy their judgments."




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