Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Thursday, 10 December 2009

Norway and Sweden censure Iran over Nobel prizewinner

Shirin Ebadi, photo 19 June, 2009
Ms Ebadi has not been back to Iran since the election

Norway and Sweden have censured Iran for its treatment of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi.

They say that her situation is of "great concern". The rebuke comes on the day Nobel prizes are presented.

Scandinavian officials say Iran confiscated the Nobel medal awarded to Ms Ebadi but later returned it. Tehran previously denied these claims.

Ms Ebadi has criticised Tehran's handling of unrest after June's disputed presidential election.

In a joint statement, foreign ministers Carl Bildt of Sweden and Jonas Gahr Stoere of Norway said: "We react very strongly to the treatment to which Shirin Ebadi has been subjected."

The ministers said Iran was preventing Ms Ebadi from doing her human rights work.

"The confiscation of the medal and the numerous threats directed at her, her family and her colleagues give cause for great concern and are yet another example of the worsened human rights situation in Iran since the election in June this year," they added.

Ms Ebadi is a human rights lawyer and is the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2008 her office was raided by the authorities.

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. Today's statement calls for her safe passage to Iran.

The human rights watchdog Amnesty International is also critical of Tehran's recent human rights record. In a new report it says human rights in Iran "are now as bad as at any time in the past 20 years".

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