Thursday, November 01, 2007

Mehdi Khalaji Sues Hossein Derakhshan

Mehdi Khalaji, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's "Next Generation Fellow," filed "a libel and defamation lawsuit" against Hossein Derakhshan in Canada, claiming $2,000,000 in damage ("Mehdi Khalaji's $2 Million Lawsuit against Me over My Blog Posts," Editor: Myself, 30 October 2007). What's his beef? Among other things, Khalaji claims that Hoder made "Defamatory Statements" such as those that "state, falsely, that the Plaintiff is a traitor to the government and people of Iran."

Without reading any of Hoder's criticisms of Khalaji, however, any thinking person can see that working for WINEP, a hawkish pro-Israel think tank, means working against the interests of Iran, not only its government but also its people, and automatically earns anyone who does so a bad reputation among those, Iranians above all, who are opposed to Washington's dangerous campaign against Iran, the campaign whose means range from media propaganda, covert actions, economic sanctions, to outright threats of war.

To take just one example, last month, the US government, against the objections of such nations as Russia and China, established new unilateral sanctions against Iran's Revolutionary Guards among other things. That is a policy that Khalaji advocated: "The IRGC is a major obstacle to democratization and economic privatization. Imposing sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards could help promote democratic reform and stability in the region" (Mehdi Khalaji, "Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, Inc.," 17 August 2007).

Unfortunately for Derakhshan, Canada's libel law is said to be "the least protective of free speech in the English-speaking world":
Why do plaintiffs outside Canada bring libel suits against non-Canadian defendants such as the New York Post and the Washington Post in our courts? The answer is that they likely have good legal advisers who correctly tell them that Canadian libel laws favour plaintiffs. For all the lofty quotes about free speech in Canadian jurisprudence, the reality is that our libel laws are the least protective of free speech in the English-speaking world. (Dan Burnett, "Canada Should Reform Its Antiquated Libel Laws," The Lawyers Weekly, 27 October 2006)
Everything that Derakhshan has written about Khalaji is likely to be found to be a "truth" or a "fair comment," as these terms are explained by Warren Sheffer and Marian Hebb in "Publish Safely! Know Your Libel Basics" (2006). And yet, by merely forcing Derakhshan, an individual who is unlikely to have a deep pocket, into a legal battle, Khalaji's lawsuit has a chilling effect on urgent political discussion necessary to stop Washington from doing to Iran what it has done to Iraq.

Update

See, also, Yoshie Furuhashi, "Still Waiting for Godot," Critical Montages, 9 November 2007; and Richard Seymour, "Tough Times for Iranian Blogger," Lenin's Tomb, 15 November 2007.

5 comments:

Naj said...

To the name of Traitor Khaladji, I would add the name of hypocrite Ramin Ahmadi, with his center of documentation of human rights abuse in Iran!

assholes!

Yoshie said...

Here's Hamid Dabashi's short list of prominent Iranians working with their "friends in Washington": "I am saying that chapter and verse people like Azar Nafisi have been actively involved in asking the United States officials for what inside the Beltway they call 'regime change' -- and now there are reports that she and her ilk -- people ranging from Abbas Milani and Moshen Sazegara to Amir Taheri, Roya Hakakian and Ramin Ahmadi -- are actually on a frequent flier program to and from DC, with regular visits to the White House, the State Department, and Almighty only knows what other doors Elliott Abrams ('the Neocons Neocon') is opening for them. I am afraid Azar Nafisi's 'friends in Washington,' as she calls them, are precisely people like Paul Wolfowitz, Foad Ajami, Bernard Lewis, and Elliot Abrams. This is what is scary -- that the foreign policy of once a democratic republic, now a predatory empire, are decided by these sorts of people, playing fast and loose with facts, and thus with a people's destiny. It is not just Iranians we need to worry about. We need to worry about Americans even more. I too live in New York, and I am frightened out of my wits that people like Azar Nafisi, Foad Ajami, Bernard Lewis, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, and Richard Perle are looking after my safety" ("Lolita and Beyond: Foaad Khosmood Interviews Hamid Dabashi," ZNet, 4 August 2006). That was the short list last year, so by now even the short list must be, alas, longer. God only knows how long the complete list is.

Naj said...

Abbas Milani too? Now that surprises me! Maybe he is the voice of reason amongst the rest of them! At least, the man has written in Persian! As opposed to the idiot I mentioned above, who is a lunatic, and who thinks he knows Iran, and who knows no $#!t!

altaf said...

"This is what is scary -- that the foreign policy of once a democratic republic, now a predatory empire,"

America has always been a predatory empire - it has never been a "democratic republic" - in any real sense of those words... from the Native American Holocaust to Vietnam to Iraq to whatever next the historically predatory empire has in store for the world.

why do some folks just ignore history, and think of the present state of affairs as if it were something unique in the history of the US?

I think it has do with not connecting with other histories of oppression, even as they are critical --- they have to pay their respects to the US. This is especially true of some "third world" intellectuals who have been accepted into the US academia, who may think they owe something to America.

Mohammad said...

Nowadays everything is upside-down and topsy-turvy in Iranian diaspora politics. We can’t consider people like Azar Nafisi et al as traitors, or in Farsi “Khaaien.” Instead we should respect them. We’ve been told that they are our “Azizaan” or our beloved. It’s a mad mad world out there. I disagree with *many* things that Hossein Derakhshan has said in the past. But he’s right on when he uses the correct noun to describe them: “Khaaien.” And that’s the main reason he’s been isolated.