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IRAN: Tehran fires back at Norway over Shirin Ebadi, who fires a volley of her own

November 27, 2009 |  2:44 pm

Iran-ebadi-afp-gettyThe spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, Ramin Mehmanparast, urged Norway to keep quiet about the fate of Shirin Ebadi's estate, including a Nobel Peace Prize medal that authorities allegedly swiped from her safe deposit box.

"We are surprised that the Norwegian officials have acted without studying the situation and making a hasty judgment," he told the semiofficial Iranian Students News Agency. "They have violated laws that are respected by all and adopted a biased attitude." 

But Ebadi herself, speaking from London, had some choice words for authorities in her home country, accusing them of lying. 

Norway administers the Nobel Peace Prize and has voiced outrage over the allegations, summoning Iran's envoy to Oslo for a meeting. In return, Iran's foreign ministry summoned Norway's ambassador to Tehran, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Ebadi, Mehmanparast said, had violated tax laws. That's why authorities had seized her assets, he said.

"We do not understand how the Norwegian officials can be indifferent towards tax laws of countries and the multi-staged instances of tax avoidance by individuals," he said. "How can they adopt peculiar positions and question the legal apparatus of sovereign nations?"

Iran says Ebadi owes $400,000 in back taxes off the $1.3 million she won as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. But Ebadi accused Iranian authorities of playing loose with the facts. 

"They are not telling the truth," she told BBC World Service radio, according to an Agence France Presse report

Not only did they swipe her Nobel Peace Prize, they froze bank accounts and retirement payments for both her and her husband. They also took her French Legion d'Honneur award.

According to Ebadi, Iranian tax laws don't require taxes on payments for awards. 

"Besides, the order to seize our bank accounts should have come from the tax authorities and the order to seize the box came from the Revolutionary Court," she said.

-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Photo: A June 19 photo shows Shirin Ebadi in Geneva. Credit: Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images