An ancient Persian tablet, about 2,500
years old, containing administrative details on the Persian empire, is
seen at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. Photo: AP
Voice of America – A U.S. appeals court has reversed a lower court ruling that could
have led to the seizure of Persian artifacts in two U.S. museums to pay
damages for victims of a 1997 bomb attack in Israel.
ruling overturned a lower court decision that allowed the plaintiffs to
search for any Iranian assets in the United States to be used to pay a
$71 million judgment against Iran.
The case was filed by American
victims of the attack that killed five people in Jerusalem and injured
about 200 others. The plaintiffs won their judgment against Iran arguing
the country provided training to members of the Islamist group Hamas.
The plaintiffs sought to find Iranian assets in the U.S. to collect the
The artifacts were owned by or on loan to Chicago’s
Field Museum and the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute. The
museums argued that the artifacts qualified for immunity under U.S. law.
appeals court ruling sends the case back to a lower court to consider
the sovereign immunity exemption. Iran initially refused to appear in
court to assert its sovereign rights.
The National Iranian
American Council says the artifacts are part of the cultural heritage of
Iran and not the property of the Iranian government – and should not be
subject to seizure.
Lawsuits are also targeting collections at Harvard University and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.