Mirmehdi v. United States
A case about the right to a fair hearing and to be free from arbitrary detention – regardless of immigration status.
The hearing took place Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, 10:00 am Eastern.
Watch as the Mirmehdi Brothers and UCLA Law’s Human Rights Litigation Clinic are heard before the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights.
Background & Case Documents
The Mirmehdi brothers, four realtors living in the Los Angeles area, were arbitrarily imprisoned for 41 months and have yet to be granted their day in court. Petitioners are now bringing their case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The brothers fled Iran because of the persecution they faced there for their pro-democracy beliefs. They sought asylum in the United States, believing their right to free speech would be protected here. When asylum-seekers enter the United States, immigration officials can choose to detain or release them on bond, meaning they are allowed to move freely within the country. Their immigration status will be determined in later procedures. The brothers were all released on bond, and were in compliance with immigration procedures. Once settled, the brothers attended rallies supporting democratic reforms in Iran.
In October 2001, United States law enforcement officers arrested the brothers, and demanded that their immigration bond be revoked by alleging falsely that the brothers were members of a terrorist organization. This allegation relied on a travel log for a 1997 pro-democracy rally in Denver.
At the hearing to revoke their immigration bond, FBI agents falsely characterized the list of attendees at the rally as a “cell form” or list of alleged terrorists. FBI agents knew these allegations against the brothers were false but presented them as fact at the hearing. Due to this false evidence, the brothers’ bond was revoked and immigration officials wrongfully detained them.
“The Mirmehdis are just one example of hundreds of Middle Eastern, Muslim people held in indefinite detention under baseless terrorism charges,” said Steffi Colao, a former law student in the Human Rights Litigation Clinic who contributed to the merits briefing. “In the post-9/11 Islamophobic panic, the U.S. government converted its immigration system into an investigatory authority, and began detaining people based on their nationality – even though nearly all of these accusations were built upon shaky evidence, stereotypes, or in the Mirmehdis’ case, false evidence.”
The brothers ultimately were detained for forty-one months. During their detention, they were subjected to humiliation, extreme physical abuse, and degrading treatment, in violation of both nationally and internationally recognized rights. They lost their businesses and suffered under the stigma of being labeled terrorists.
After they were released, the brothers sued in U.S. courts regarding the conditions of their detention. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that as immigrants, they did not have the right to bring Constitutional claims about their wrongful detention. The brothers petitioned to have their case heard at the Supreme Court, but the Court chose not to hear their case.
In 2013, the brothers decided to bring their case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and in 2021 the case was deemed admissible. We hope the Commission will find the brothers are entitled to a remedy.
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Our partners on this case are Schonbrun Seplow Harris Hoffman & Zeldes, LLP.
November 2023 Press Release following the Hearing
Fall 2023 Hearing: Summary of Argument and Exhibits
Fall 2023 Hearing Request
December 2022 Press Release
March 2021 Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Report on Admissibility
2021 Additional Observations on the Merits
October 2021 Press Release
April 2014 KPFK Radio News Coverage of IACHR and UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Filing
April 2014 Los Angeles Daily News – Article Discussing the Brothers’ Case