Iranian Nobel Laureate Sues US Government
November 9, 2004
Iranian human rights advocate and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin
Ebadi has filed a lawsuit against the US Treasury Department for
preventing her from publishing a book in the United States, reports
PEN American Center (PEN).
Ebadi wants to publish her memoirs in the United States because of
severe restrictions on freedom of expression in Iran, where she has
been jailed in the past. However, the Department's Office of Foreign
Assets Control (OFAC) forbids citizens of Cuba, Iran and Sudan from
publishing books in the United States without a license because of trade sanctions imposed on those countries.
Ebadi has finished a draft of the book but is seeking an agent and
editor in the US to translate and re-write the book for international
readers. OFAC regulations prevent her from signing a contract with
the Strothman Agency, which wants to work with her and negotiate with
publishers on her behalf. "The regulations seem to defy the values
the United States promotes throughout the world, which always include
free expression and the free exchange of ideas," Ebadi says.
Ebadi's lawsuit joins a legal challenge launched in September 2004 by
several groups, including PEN. The groups want to expose the
inconsistencies in the OFAC regulations, arguing that they violate
the constitutional right to free speech and ignore Congressional
amendments exempting "information and informational materials" from
Meanwhile, in Iran, authorities are intensifying their crackdown on
human rights activists and journalists who use the Internet, report
Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans
frontières, RSF). Since 7 September, eight individuals have been
arrested without charges. In some of the cases, authorities have
targeted journalists and technicians who work for websites belonging
to political leaders.
Legal Challenge Against OFAC
Human Rights Watch