Artifacts Illegally Sent to Hobby Lobby for Museum of the Bible Returned to Iraq

Several thousand ancient artifacts ICE officials say were smuggled into the United States are headed back to Iraq.

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Several thousand ancient artifacts ICE officials say were smuggled into the United States are headed back to Iraq.
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Cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals dating back thousands of years were returned to their home nation Wednesday afternoon during a ceremony at the Iraqi ambassador’s home in D.C.
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The artifacts described life in ancient Mesopotamia — inscribed with messages and contracts.
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The artifacts were falsely labelled and illegally sent to Hobby Lobby for its D.C. based Museum of the Bible, Justice Department officials said.
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ICE and the Justice Department took legal action against the company and it eventually agreed to forfeit the artifacts and pay a $3 million fine.
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“Such efforts are to be noted,” Ambassador Dr. Fareed Yasseen said. “Not only do they enforce the law, they serve as a sense of historic justice and they help in the fight against criminal and terrorist networks.”
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“These artifacts are part of Iraq’s illustrious history, and we are proud in our role of removing them from the black market in antiquities and returning them to their rightful owner,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue said.
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When Hobby Lobby settled with the government, it said it should have had more oversight in its acquisitions.
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The artifacts will be sent to the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad.
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