UN's Ban urges Iran to ensure Nobel winner's safety

3/01/2009 - 22:12

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced concern on Saturday about the harassment of Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi in Iran and urged the Tehran government to ensure her safety.

Some 150 protesters gathered outside the Tehran home and office of the Iranian lawyer and human rights activist on Thursday, accusing her of sympathy for Israel, the Islamic state's enemy.

Ban is "greatly concerned" about reports that "Ebadi has been threatened in recent days, her Centre for the Defence of Human Rights broken into and materials taken, and that hostile crowds have mobilized today outside her office and home," a Ban representative said in a statement.

Ban urged Iranian authorities "to take immediate measures to prevent any further harassment and to ensure Shirin Ebadi's safety and security," the statement said.

Iran's judiciary has said the December 21 closure of Ebadi's centre was a temporary measure and that it could be reopened if the group obtained a legal permit for its activities.

Harassment of the 2003 Nobel laureate has also been criticized this week by the United States and France, which summoned Iran's ambassador in Paris on Wednesday to register a protest in the name of the European Union.

(Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; editing by Philip Barbara)

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