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Former Fellow Sues University, HUPD

Afrasiabi Charges Harvard Violated Civil Rights by Excluding Him from Campus

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

A former Harvard postdoctoral fellow filed a $1 million lawsuit against the University and the Harvard Police Department (HUPD) last Friday, accusing Harvard of violating his civil rights.

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi was arrested and incarcerated for suspected extortion from a research associate at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies last January. The Middlesex County district attorney's office dropped all charges against him in April.

Afrasiabi said that even though the charges and an accompanying restraining order were dropped, Harvard attempted to bar him from University property.

The current suit against Harvard stems from letter from Chief of Police Francis D. "Bud" Riley prohibiting him from entering any Harvard property and threatening him with prosecution for criminal trespass for violating the order, Afrasiabi said.

"I showed the letter to half a dozen a lawyers, all of whom were amazed, some even angered," said Afrasiabi, who will represent himself in the case. "One lawyer said he should frame it. Harvard has no right to do this."

Afrasiabi said he will contend in the suit that the University is not a private dwelling and thus does not have the right to bar him from its land.

Riley sent the letter to Afrasiabi on April 17, five days after he was ordered by HUPD Detective Richard W. Mederos and other officers to leave a public lecture in Coolidge Hall several hours after the charges and restraining order had been dropped.

University attorney Alan A. Ryan Jr., who will represent the University, Riley and Mederos, said Harvard will move to dismiss the case.

"I don't think that this lawsuit has any legal basis," Ryan said.

Riley declined to comment on the case.

Afrasiabi's lawsuit is the second of three that he said he intends to file.

The first suit charges Professor of the History of Religion and Islamic Studies William A. Graham and Gurney Professor of History Roy P. Mottahedeh of defamation of character.

Afrasiabi said he will soon file a third lawsuit against the University for his arrest and incarceration last spring.

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