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N.J. man who is suing Iran says U.S. should back him

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A New Jersey man says the U.S. government is on the wrong side of his family's legal battle with Iran over a 1995 terrorist bombing that killed his daughter.

"I find it disheartening," Stephen Flatow said after the Justice Department asked a judge to stop part of his effort to collect damages against Iran.U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth sided with the government Thursday and temporarily blocked the Flatow family's plan to force the sale of three Washington properties owned by Iran.

Flatow's family sued Iran under a 1996 law that allows Americans to seek damages for terrorist acts from nations considered sponsors of international terror. Lamberth ruled in March that Iran must pay $247.5 million in damages for the death of Alisa Flatow, 20. She was killed in April 1995 in a suicide bombing for which the Iran-backed terror group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.

"We have a law that gave me the right to sue the Iranian government in our courts. I did that at no small expense," Flatow said.

"If this law was not going to work to protect American victims of terrorism, why did the president stand on the White House lawn and laud Congress for passing it and commend the terror victims' parents for pursuing it?"

At Thursday's court hearing, Justice Department official Vincent Garvey argued that the three properties targeted by the family are "diplomatic properties" protected by international agreements.

Garvey insisted he was in no way defending Iran. But Thomas Fortune Fay, an attorney for Flatow, accused the government of protecting "the property of terrorists."