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 Iranian Nobel Laureate Sues US Government
 United States
 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 trade embargoes.

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.

ABC News
Legal Challenge Against OFAC
Human Rights Watch