|18 November 2004|
U.S. Clears American Agency to Help Iranian Nobel Peace Prize Winner Arrange U.S. Speaking Engagements
Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP
|18 November 2004, Washington, D.C. - Clarifying the scope of the U.S. embargo against Iran, the U.S. government has confirmed that Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi and her U.S. representative, the Strothman Agency LLC, may work together in arranging speaking engagements for Ms. Ebadi's upcoming visit to the United States.|
Ms. Ebadi, an Iranian human rights lawyer who won the Peace Prize in 2003, plans to speak at a number of public conferences hosted by various American universities and non-profit organizations in early 2005.
Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP is representing Ms. Ebadi and the Strothman Agency as pro bono clients in addressing a number of restrictions that the Iran embargo imposes on Ms. Ebadi and the Strothman Agency, relating not only to the arrangements for her speaking engagements, but also to the preparation of Ms. Ebadi's memoirs for publication in the United States.
With respect to the arrangement of speaking engagements, Simeon M. Kriesberg and Carol J. Bilzi of Mayer, Brown's Washington office represented Ms. Ebadi and the Strothman Agency before the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which is responsible for administering the U.S. embargo against Iran.
Mayer, Brown lawyers contended that the Strothman Agency need not seek a specific license for representing Ms. Ebadi in the arrangement of speaking engagements, because these activities are exempted by OFAC regulations providing a general license for participation in public conferences and similar events. In a two-page letter, OFAC Director Robert Werner agreed, noting "Strothman's provision of services to Ms. Ebadi to facilitate her speaking engagements in the United States is permitted without the need for further authorization from this office."
Despite the OFAC letter, Ms. Ebadi and the Strothman Agency continue to face other embargo restrictions with respect to the possible publication of Ms. Ebadi's memoirs in the United States. Ms. Ebadi and the Strothman Agency have sued the United States in federal court in New York to challenge embargo regulations that block the Strothman Agency from helping to edit and prepare Ms. Ebadi's memoirs for American publication. The suit seeks to strike down OFAC regulations broadly restricting the activities that Americans can undertake with respect to the publication of works by authors from embargoed countries such as Iran. The OFAC letter regarding speaking engagements does not resolve the issues raised in Ms. Ebadi's lawsuit regarding publishing activities.
The OFAC regulations relating to publishing works by nationals of embargoed countries were first challenged in a lawsuit filed on September 27, 2004, by the Association of American Publishers Professional and Scholarly Publishing division (AAP/PSP), the Association of American University Presses (AAUP), PEN American Center (PEN), and Arcade Publishing. The lawsuit by Ms. Ebadi and the Strothman Agency was filed on October 26. Philip A. Lacovara, Anthony J. Diana, Ryan P. Farley, Evan A. Creutz, Matthew S. Carrico and Deborah L. Wolmark of Mayer, Brown's New York office are representing Ms. Ebadi and the Strothman Agency in the federal lawsuit.
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