TEHRAN -- Iranian security forces have raided and closed the Tehran office of the human rights center run by 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.
Iran's judiciary confirmed the closure, saying the center was involved in "illegal" activities, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency.
"The center was acting as a [political] party without having legal permit," the report said. "It had illegal contacts with local and foreign organizations. It had organized news conferences and seminars."
In an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Farda, Narges Mohammadi, the deputy head of the Center of Human Rights Defenders, said 10 to 15 uniformed and plainclothes security agents entered the watchdog's office in northwest Tehran as members, including Ebadi herself, were preparing to belatedly commemorate the 60th anniversary of Human Rights Day on December 10.
"I asked them to show their legal warrants," Mohammadi told RFE/RL, "but they declined to show any authorization. Now, there are 10 to 15 agents in the building, and they are filming us."
Mohammadi said 200 to 300 guests had been invited to the celebration but that they had been barred from entering.
"This is an illegal act," she said. "They had no kind of authorization of any kind. They are sealing the office, and our resistance is useless."
Ebadi criticized the raid, saying it will not stop human rights activists in Iran.
"The closure of the office without providing a legal warrant is illegal. We will protest against it," Ebadi told Reuters. "It will not deprive us from our rights activities."
Ebadi used a UN forum in Geneva on Human Rights Day to condemn hard-liners in power in some Muslim countries and rulers of the world's last communist states as abusers of human rights. She said Muslim dictatorships use religion to underpin their own power.