Court Won’t Let Terrorism Victims Claim Persian Artifacts From Harvard

A federal appeals court has ruled that victims of a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem who won a judgment against Iran for the country’s role in the attack cannot seize artifacts at Harvard University that they had claimed were owed to them as compensation, essentially agreeing with a lower court’s 2011 ruling in the matter.

In an opinion handed down on Wednesday, a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that the plaintiffs had “failed to demonstrate” that any of the roughly 500 antiquities at a Harvard museum met a narrow exception to federal law that could have made them subject to seizure. The ruling represents another setback for the plaintiffs, who in 2011 lost a similar case involving artifacts at the University of Chicago.

The plaintiffs have sought the artifacts, which come from ancient Iranian civilizations such as Persia, on the theory that they belong to the modern nation, and so could be used as assets to satisfy a legal judgment.

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