Norway says Iran has confiscated Shirin Ebadi’s Nobel Prize

Iranian authorities have taken human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi’s Nobel Peace Prize medal and diploma from her safe-deposit box in Iran, Norwegian officials charged Thursday.

Officials in Norway, which administers the prize, expressed outrage at the alleged seizure.

“This is the first time a Nobel Peace Prize has been confiscated by national authorities,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store said in a statement. “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.”

Ragnhild Imerslund of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry told The Times in a telephone interview that she didn’t have detailed information on the circumstances of the alleged confiscation but that she believed it took place “a week ago or so.”

Ebadi was awarded the prize in 2003 for her many years of legal work on behalf of Iranian political activists, religious and ethnic minorities and women and children. She is the first Iranian to win the prize.


But Ebadi has been subjected to continual intimidation and harassment by Iranian authorities. Hard-line political groups close to the government have vandalized her home. Police have raided and shut down her offices. Anonymous callers have made death threats.

After the latest incident, Norway summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires in Oslo to a meeting Wednesday with Norwegian State Secretary Gry Larsen, who voiced her strong opposition to the alleged confiscation of Ebadi’s prize.

In its statement, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry also expressed concern over the treatment of Ebadi’s husband, Javad Tavassolian, by Iranian authorities.

It said Tavassolian’s pension was not being paid and that his bank account had been frozen. He also was detained in Tehran in the fall and beaten, it said.

Store, the foreign minister, added that Norway would keep a very close eye on events in Iran.

“During the meeting with the Iranian charge d’affaires,” Store said, “we made it clear that Norway will continue to engage in international efforts to protect human rights defenders and will follow the situation in Iran closely.”

Sandels is a special correspondent.