Iranian legislator urges military to seize Canadian ships

An Iranian Revolutionary Guard jet boat sails around the seized British-flagged tanker Stena Impero in Bandar Abbas, southern Iran, July 21, 2019. EPA/HASAN SHIRVANI

The Iranian regime threatened Monday to retaliate against Canada after Global News reported that Tehran’s assets in Toronto and Ottawa had been sold to compensate terrorism victims.

The head of Iran’s judiciary said the Islamic republic would “impound and confiscate Canada’s assets,” while a hardline legislator reportedly called for the seizure of Canadian ships.

The Iranian military should “seize all vessels carrying goods and products to or from Canada as soon as possible,” said Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a national security council member, Radio Farda reported.

The spokesperson for Iran’s powerful Guardian Council, Abbasali Kadkhodaei, accused Canada of “economic terrorism” and also called for retaliation, the Tehran Times reported.

“We will by no means remain silent on this issue,” warned Hojatoleslam Seyed Ebrahim Raeisi, Iran’s chief judge, according to the Tasnim News Agency and Ahlul Bayt News Agency.

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Tehran has reacted angrily to the selling of its non-diplomatic assets by the Canadian courts in order to satisfy judgements against the regime over its sponsorship of Hamas and Hezbollah.

An advertisement for an Ottawa property seized from the Iranian regime to compensate victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism.

As Global News reported last week, regime-controlled buildings in Ottawa and Toronto were sold for $28.5 million and the proceeds awarded to victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism.

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Several bank accounts and vehicles were also seized.

The action was the result of the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, a law enacted in 2012 by the previous Conservative government that allowed victims to sue state sponsors of terrorism for damages.

The call for the seizure of Canadian ships comes at a time of heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf.

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The U.S. has blamed Iran for attacking ships in the Gulf in retaliation for the imposition of economic sanctions and withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal.

Iran has also seized several ships, including a British oil tanker, after an Iranian vessel was seized for allegedly shipping oil to Syria in violation of international sanctions.

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Proposed by terrorism victims, the Canadian law lifts state immunity from countries deemed state sponsors of terrorism. Under the law, only non-diplomatic assets can be claimed by victims. Iran and Syria are the only countries currently designated.

The law allowed terror victims who had won judgements against Tehran outside Canada to claim the regime’s Canadian assets, and several American families did just that, filing cases in the Ontario and Nova Scotia courts.

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The Canadian courts ruled in favour of the victims, and Iran’s assets were sold and distributed to the victims in a process that ended last month. The Supreme Court of Canada rejected Iran’s appeal.

Canada cut diplomatic ties with Iran in 2012, citing the regime’s support for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, nuclear program, threats against Israel and backing of terrorist groups.

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