- WND - http://www.wnd.com -

Lawyer accuses VOA manager of pro-Iranian bias

Attorney Larry Klayman

A manager at Persian News Network, a division of Voice of America, has family links to the elite ruling class in Iran – and the bias that goes with that, according to a lawyer for a woman suing VOA for harassment after she expressed her pro-Iranian- freedom perspective.

The claims have emerged in a lawsuit filed against VOA seeking $150 million in damages for a woman who was dismissed from her post following her expression of support for freedom for Iranians.

The case was filed against Voice of America alleging the managers at its Persian News Network knowingly advocated anti-American sentiment in their programs and then used sexual harassment to drive out an anchor who objected.

The case has been brought by Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch and also FreedomWatch USA, on behalf of Elham Sataki, who now suffers serious health problems because of the stress created by the conflict, according to the documentation in the case.

In a recent letter to VOA attorney Paul Kollmer-Dorsey and others, Klayman noted that, “It is well known that Senior Executive Producer Ali Sajjadi of the Persian News Network (PNN) of Voice of America (VOA) has close ties to the Islamic regime; in fact his father is a mullah in Iran.

“This explains the anti-American rhetoric and pro-regime propaganda which is currently being broadcast by the Persian News Network,” he wrote. “Just last Friday, during a ‘special’ called ‘Static,’ Sajjadi disparaged the United States, claimed to be the representative of the American government and/or people and sided with the mullahs in Iran, so I have learned from a number of sources,” Klayman continued.

Contacted by WND, Kollmer-Dorsey declined to respond to any questions about the dispute, referring WND to a media contact at the organization. That office did not respond to requests for comment.

Klayman continued, “Sajjadi’s anti-American and pro-regime rhetoric, which has found its way onto many PNN shows, does not go unnoticed. Viewers in Iran and elsewhere are now calling PNN the ‘Islamic News Network.’ A simple review of Facebook and other Internet postings will bear this out.”

He said he obtained an English translation of Sajjadi’s comments in which he referred to himself as “the United States’ agent,” and suggested that the Iranian opposition – a common reference to those who are seeking freedom in the Middle East nation – must “pay” if they want any voice.

“If the opposition wants or needs a voice or any kind of media for that matter, they they have to pay for it out of their pockets, they are getting a lot of grants these days, they can use that money as well,” the translation attributed to Sajjadi.

Further, when asked if his father was a mullah, a religious leader, the translation attributed to Sajjadi, “What is wrong with that? Any father has a job, someone is a lawyer the other is a cleric. I should also point out that there’s nothing wrong with being religious.”

Klayman told VOA in his letter the relationship was a focal point of the discrimination complaint on which he’s working.

“Sajjadi and his minions … have harassed and retaliated against a number of VOA/PNN anchors and employees who hold strong pro-Iranian-freedom views, contrary to the interests of the regime,” Klayman wrote. “In this regard, Sajjadi and his co-managers, who are part of this anti-American and anti-freedom agenda, have been named as defendants in a lawsuit recently filed by my client, Elham Sataki. She was severely retaliated against by Sajjadi … for her personal views in favor of Iranian freedom.”

The original complaint cites claims under the First, Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and references a letter from Congress urging an investigation of VOA over “anti-American rhetoric.”

In Sataki’s case, the complaint cites an alleged “workplace retaliation” scheme that “stems from an unhealthy culture of corruption at PNN, where anchors, such as Ms. Sataki, are punished for their personal political views in favor of more aggressive, pro-Iranian freedom news reporting, particularly during this critical period in Iranian history,” Klayman confirmed.

Klayman, author of “WHORES: Why and How I Came to Fight the Establishment,” told WND the plaintiff’s personal political views are that VOA “should be much stronger in further freedom in Iran. Many people in America feel the same way.”

“One has to ask who the managers are really working for,” he said.

At the time the complaint was filed, Letitia King, a spokeswoman for the organization’s board of governors, told WND, “We don’t comment on the ongoing legal matters, but of course the (Broadcasting Board of Governors) affirms a very strong commitment to its equal-employment-opportunity programs. … We have a policy of zero tolerance for sexual harassment.”

But Klayman also has released a copy of a polygraph examination done by the company Jack Trimarco and Associates. The test suggested that Sataki is telling the truth in her complaints that a co-host of the program “Straight Talk” subjected her to sexual harassment and when she refused the advances, had her fired from the show.

On its website, the VOA promises it “will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and will also present responsible discussion and opinion on these policies.”

Further, the network promises to present “a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought.”

The original complaint alleges “malicious and willful acts” by PNN were part of attempts to “silence her, and set an example for other dissatisfied VOA/PNN employees and contracators.”

In a recent column by Klayman on WND, he wrote that nowhere does the fire for freedom burn so bright “as in the Persian people, many of whom, having fled the tyrannical Islamic regime in Iran over the last 31 years, now live in the United States.”

They have watched, he wrote, the effects of Islam on their country, “through barbaric imprisonments, torture and executions in the name of Allah.”

He said if the freedom fighters in Iran ultimately are successful, “it would not only eliminate Iran’s nuclear threat, but change the entire dynamic of the Middle East, and the world. A free and secularized Iran – which is the goal of the Green Movement and other opposition groups – would become a natural ally of Israel (in recent protests, Iranian students chanted, ‘We don’t care about the Palestinians, we care about Iran!’) and the West, and serve as a buffer to the radical Arab states, such as Syria, Libya and Saudi Arabia (yes, Saudi Arabia is radical). This in turn would further the potential for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, as Arab terrorist groups, like Hamas and Hezbollah, could no longer count on Tehran for financial and logistical support. Without the Islamic regime’s backing, these terrorist groups could not effectively wage war against Israel.”

Klayman previously has pursued legal action against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the death of a freedom protester there and then followed up by serving him notice of the case during a visit to New York.

He criticized President Obama for not aligning with the beleaguered victims of human-rights violations. Instead, he said, “this president and the rest of the West have prostrated themselves at the altar of these neo-Nazis and today it has become clear that these fascists have no respect for either him or American power.”

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Klayman’s lawsuit against Iran is a class-action case brought by an Iranian woman now living in Los Angeles whose brother was killed by the Muslim regime in Tehran.

According to the filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Akbar Mohammadi was a student at the University of Tehran and a critic of the Iranian regime. He was arrested during protests that followed the closure of a reformist newspaper.

“The protests were nonviolent, but this did not stop the Iranian police and government agents from using violence and force to disperse and punish the protesters. … Akbar was taken into custody,” the earlier lawsuit explains.

“While in prison, Akbar was subjected to repeated bouts of torture and cruel and unusual forms of punishment, causing him to go deaf, and be in a constant state of agony. … It was recommended by doctors that he be transferred to other countries for treatment … but this request was denied.”

Eventually his medications even were denied him, the claim states.

“Finally on July 31st, 2006, Akbar was murdered in Evin prison during a torture session, his long grueling prison term mercilessly ended by the regime,” it states.