Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Thursday, 4 March 2010

Shirin Ebadi warns against Iranian sanctions

Shirin Ebadi, photo 19 June, 2009
Ms Ebadi said sanctions would backfire and harm Iran's people

Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi has warned against imposing sanctions on her country, saying it would harm the population not the government.

Speaking at the Asia Society in New York she said international sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme would backfire.

But she pleaded with western companies not to do business with Iran, the news agency AFP reported.

Companies trading with Iran should be censured, not Iran's people, she said.

"We oppose military attack on Iran or economic sanctions because that's to the detriment of the people," she said.

'Corporate sanctions'

The US, France, the UK, Russia, China and Germany, otherwise known as the "P5 +1" are currently discussing the possibility of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme.

Iran insists its enrichment programme is for civilian use, but there are fears it is trying to develop a nuclear bomb.

Ms Ebadi repeated allegations she made last month that a number of electronics and telecommunications companies sold equipment used to monitor text messages and mobile phones to the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

She called on governments to "sanction such corporations".

Ms Ebadi is a human rights lawyer and is the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

She has criticised the government's crackdown on protests held after the June presidential election.

Ms Ebadi left Iran a day before the June poll to attend a conference in Spain and has yet to return.

Her sister was arrested after mass protests in December last year.

In November 2009, she said the Iranian government had confiscated her Nobel Peace Prize medal from a Tehran bank vault.

The Iranian authorities have denied this.

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