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Iranian officials seize activist Shirin Ebadi's Peace Prize medal

FILE - In this Thursday July 9, 2009 file photo, Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, center, gestures with youths wearing T-shirts with
FILE - In this Thursday July 9, 2009 file photo, Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, center, gestures with youths wearing T-shirts with "Peace" written on the front, as she visits the Scampia district, in Secondigliano on the outskirts of Naples, southern Italy. Iranian authorities have confiscated Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi's medal, the Norwegian government said Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009, accusing Iran of a shocking first in the history of the prize. (AP Photo/Salvatore Laporta, File) (Salvatore Laporta - AP)

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By Thomas Erdbrink
Friday, November 27, 2009

TEHRAN -- Iranian authorities have confiscated the Nobel Peace Prize medal awarded to Shirin Ebadi in 2003 for her work as a lawyer and human rights activist, a close associate of hers said Thursday.

The seizure is part of an increasing campaign against Ebadi's family and associates, several of whom have been interrogated and arrested, said Nargess Mohammadi, deputy head of Ebadi's organization, Human Rights Defenders.

The medal was kept in a safety box in an Iranian state bank.

Ebadi was abroad when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's June 12 election victory sparked street protests and a crackdown on dissidents. She has not returned to the country, fearing arrest. "The government wants to scare Ebadi from returning to Iran," said Mohammadi, a lawyer.

Security forces have threatened Ebadi's husband, brother and sister, Mohammadi said. Three lawyers connected to her organization have spent months in jail, and her husband's and the organization's bank accounts have been blocked.

Iranian media related to the government have called the Nobel Peace Prize a Western political tool that supports opponents of the Islamic republic.

Special correspondent Kay Armin Serjoie contributed to this report.


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