NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Protests are being planned at a New York City hotel and at the United Nations as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to arrive in New York City this weekend for the annual UN General Assembly.
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Ahmadinejad, who is scheduled to make a speech at the UN on Wednesday, is expected to stay for the second straight year at the posh Warwick New York Hotel.
A spokesman for the hotel did not confirm whether the leader would be staying there. The hotel didn’t confirm his stay there last year, either.
As they did last year, members of United Against Nuclear Iran will be protesting outside and inside, reserving a room in hopes of taking their outrage as close to Ahmadinejad and his entourage as possible.
“We’re going to let him know that he is not welcome in New York and let the people of New York know that the Warwick has irresponsible standards as to who it does business with,” Nathan Carleton, spokesman for United Against Nuclear Iran, told 1010 WINS.
United Against Nuclear Iran and several prominent Jewish groups have urged the Warwick not to provide luxury accommodations for a man who denies the Holocaust and says the U.S. orchestrated the Sept. 11 attacks and who has also come under criticism for Iran’s repressive treatment of its people and its support of groups like Hamas.
“No more than you would host in your home a criminal, why would you make it easy here for a rogue regime?” said Daniel Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International, the Jewish human rights advocacy group.
The organization has sent letters to the Warwick asking that it not let Ahmadinejad stay there.
“We know of at least a dozen hotels that have refused to host him and we wish every hotel had refused to host him and he would be forced to stay at Iran’s mission to the UN,” Carleton said.
A representative of the Warwick did not comment.
An Israeli legal group representing a New Yorker injured in a suicide bombing who later won a $12 million judgment against Iran is going further — filing legal papers asking that the Warwick turn over any money paid by Iran for the delegation’s hotel rooms.
In a motion filed last week in federal court in Manhattan, Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center demanded that the Warwick either refuse to let Ahmadinejad stay or hand over Ahmadinejad’s hotel fees to its client, Stuart Hersh.
“He’s spending $140,000 at the Warwick Hotel and he owes me $12 million,” Hersh, 64, told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond last week.
Hersh was severely injured in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 1997 and sued Iran for damages, accusing the country of supporting Islamic Hamas, which staged the attack.
The bombing left the former Queens resident and U.S. Navy veteran with injuries so severe, he still incurs $500 a month in medical expenses.
“So in effect, Iran is still terrorizing me,” he said.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the law center’s director, said while Ahmadinejad has the right as a world leader to speak at the UN, that “does not give any rights to any war criminal to walk around New York and engage with other businesses that have nothing to do with the United Nations.”
Christopher DeVito, executive director of the advocacy group Iran180, said the organization will have a protest at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza on Wednesday when Ahmadinejad is scheduled to speak. Iran180 wants a change in Iran’s nuclear and human rights policies.
It was unclear what events, if any, outside of his UN appearance are on Ahmadinejad’s schedule, but in previous years, they haven’t been exempt from protest either, as in 2007, when he spoke at Columbia University.
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