December 29, 2008; Change for Equality: On Monday December 29, 2008 at 5:30 in the afternoon the private law office of Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Lawyer and human rights defenders was stormed by 5 security officers identifying themselves as tax officials, who presented a letter allowing them to take two computers and other documents.
Shirin Ebadi has however refused to surrender her case files and computers to these officials citing that the confidential nature of the work of lawyers, especially human rights lawyers, and claiming that the act of surrendering client files to government officials would breach that confidentiality. These security officials are presently in Ms. Ebadi's private law office and engaged in search of the premises and seizure of property.
This latest assault takes place following the closure of the Defenders of Human Rights Center on December 21, which provides free legal advice and support to human rights defenders and of which Ebadi is a founding member. A few days following the closure of the Center, tax officials had gone to Ebadi's private practice making inquiries about her income and tax payments. Ms. Ebadi was extremely cooperative during this inquiry, so much so that tax officials thanked her for her cooperative approach. These officials examined computers and other documents in Ebadi's office and announced that since there were no documents related to her income or tax payment they would not remove any documents or computers from the office. Despite this development, on the following day, Mehr News Agency, announced in a report that Shirin Ebadi had failed to pay her taxes. This news was refuted by Shirin Ebadi. This latest assault seems to be part of an ongoing Campaign of harassment of Shirin Ebadi, human rights defenders as a whole and reflects the worsening situation of human rights in Iran.
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