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Iran to probe threats against Nobel laureate Ebadi

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered police to investigate threats made against Iran’s 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, state radio reported on Tuesday.

File photo of Iran's Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi posing before an interview with Reuters in her office in Tehran, March 16, 2008. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered police to investigate threats made against Iran's 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ebadi, state radio reported on Tuesday. REUTERS/Steve Crisp/Files

Ebadi, a human rights lawyer, on Monday sent a letter to Iran’s police chief complaining about threats against her and her family in recent months, along with copies of three handwritten, anonymous warnings.

Her office also faxed the material to Reuters.

State radio said Ahmadinejad had ordered Iran’s police chief to investigate and to ensure Ebadi’s security.

“It is the police’s duty to preserve the security and safety of all Iranian citizens. The issue should be investigated and violators should be handed over to the judiciary,” Ahmadinejad said, according to state radio.

One of the letters read: “Shirin Ebadi, your death is near.” Another accused her of indulging in “un-Islamic behaviour” similar to Baha’i practices, despite repeated warnings.

The Baha’i faith is an offshoot of Islam considered heretical by Iran’s Shi’ite Muslim establishment.

Ebadi last month told Reuters that Iran’s human rights record had regressed in the past two years, citing what she said was a rising number of political prisoners and the highest number of executions per capita in the world last year.

Over the years, Ebadi’s advocacy of human rights has earned her a spell in jail and, she told Reuters, a stream of threatening letters and telephone calls.

“When you believe in the correctness of your work, there is no reason to be afraid of anything,” she said.

Iran’s government rejects accusations that it violates human rights, and accuses its Western foes of hypocrisy and double standards.