WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. government asked a court to block a defamation plaintiff’s access to the internal workings of a group that campaigns against a nuclear Iran.
The New York Times on Monday reported that a federal judge in New York has since March agreed to the government’s request to shield from scrutiny United Against Nuclear Iran.
The court has given the government until Thursday to formally invoke its privilege in the lawsuit, brought against the advocacy group by Victor Restis, a Greek shipping magnate, after the group accused him of fronting for Iran’s government in its bid to bypass energy sector sanctions aimed at stopping its alleged nuclear weapons program.
Restis denies the claims.
It is not clear what the government believes it risks from the revelation of the group’s donor list and internal documents.
According to the Times, the government is prohibited from secretly working with non-government groups to influence public opinion.
Prominent veterans of Republican and Democratic administrations founded the group in 2008.
It exposes sanctions busters through reports, the media and social media, prompting many of them to stop doing business with Iran.
Among others, Restis wants to subpoena Meir Dagan, a former chief of the Israeli Mossad spy agency who is an adviser to the group, and Rami Ungar, an Israeli businessman Restis claims approached him on behalf of backers of United Against Nuclear Iran in order to settle the case.