Nobel Peace Prize Confiscated
The medal and accompanying diploma were taken from a bank box in Tehran about three weeks ago on the orders of Iran’s Revolutionary Court, she said.
Iran has denied an accusation by Norway that Tehran has confiscated the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian human rights campaigner, in 2003. Ramin Mehmanparast, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, said: “We are surprised to see Norwegian authorities taking a tendentious stance and in a hasty attitude ignoring laws and rules which are respected by everyone.”
Shirin Ebadi, human rights lawyer, “The Iranian authorities are not telling the truth because according to our tax laws, there is no tax payable on the Nobel Prize”
By Ian Macdougall (CP) TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian authorities have confiscated Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi’s medal, her lawyer and Norway’s government said Thursday, in a sign of the increasingly drastic steps they are taking against any dissent.
In Norway, where the peace prize is awarded, the government said the confiscation was a shocking first in the history of the 108-year-old prize.
Ebadi, a human rights lawyer, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts in promoting democracy. She has long faced harassment from Iranian authorities for her activities – including a raid on her office last year in which files were confiscated.
The seizure of her prize is an expression of the Iranian government’s harsh approach to anyone it considers an opponent – particularly since the massive street protests triggered by hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed June 12 re-election.
During the past months, hundreds of pro-reform activists have been arrested, and a mass trial has sentenced dozens to prison terms.
In Tehran, Ebadi’s lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, confirmed the medal was confiscated and said it was seized on a September order from a judge at Tehran’s Revolutionary Court. The lawyer said she was not aware of the content of the order because the court has not allowed her to study it yet.
“Ebadi’s husband found out some 20 days ago that all medals, including the Nobel one, were confiscated from their safe deposit box,” Sotoudeh said.
Calls to Iranian judiciary officials were not returned Thursday.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere called the move “shocking” and said it was “the first time a Nobel Peace Prize has been confiscated by national authorities.”
Ebadi said in an interview published Nov. 17 in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera that her apartment, pension and her bank account and those of her relatives had been seized, along with her Nobel and Legion of Honor.
“I live in an effective state of exile,” she was quoted as saying from a hotel in New York, where she had been attending U.N. meetings. “They say I owe them $410,000 in back taxes because of the Nobel; it’s a complete lie, given that the Iranian fiscal law says that prizes are excluded.”
She nevertheless said she plans to return to Iran when she can be more useful in the country than outside it.
“Nothing frightens me anymore, even if they threaten to arrest me for fiscal evasion upon my return,” she said.
Norway has reacted strongly to the news that the Iranian authorities have confiscated the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Shirin Ebadi in 2003. The Iranian Chargé d’affaires Has been summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“This is the first time a Nobel Peace Prize has been confiscated by national authorities. The medal and the diploma have been removed from Dr Ebadi’s bank box, together with other personal items. Such an act leaves us feeling shock and disbelief,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. (NRK/Press release) Rolleiv Solholm