Hobby Lobby Will Give Up Thousands Of Ancient Artifacts That Prosecutors Say Were Smuggled

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Posted on: July 12, 2017

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In 2010 and 2011, a series of packages were shipped to Hobby Lobby's headquarters or one of the craft retailer's affiliates. Shipping labels described the contents as clay tiles or tile samples of minimal value, but, according to federal prosecutors, they were actually valuable ancient artifacts of Iraqi origin being smuggled into the United States. US laws restrict the import of Iraqi cultural items that were looted from Iraqi institutions or where "a reasonable suspicion exists that they were illegally removed." Iraq bars the export of antiquities and restricts private possession. According to prosecutors, an expert hired by Hobby Lobby to advise the company on its acquisitions warned that antiquities likely from Iraq carried "considerable risk," and noted that hundreds of thousands of objects — including cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals, which Hobby Lobby ultimately purchased — had been looted from Iraq since 1990.   Hobby Lobby reached an agreement with the government to give up thousands of artifacts and to adopt new internal measures to make sure any future acquisitions comply with customs laws and regulations. The company will also have to file regular reports for 18 months about new purchases of "cultural property." Hobby Lobby did not admit any criminal wrongdoing. Read More

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