U.S. Returns Stolen Iraqi Antiquities
Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have returned to the Iraqi government stolen cultural antiquities, including three Mesopotamian cylindrical seals from the Akkadian period estimated to date back to between 2340 and 2180 B.C.
The items were turned over this week to Samir Sumaidaie, the Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, during ceremonies in New York, said Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Michael J. Garcia, who heads ICE.
"By returning these national treasures, we restore their integrity," Mr. Garcia said. "Now, these items are no longer classified as illegal contraband, sitting in a seized evidence locker. Instead, these priceless artifacts will soon resume their millennium-old role in helping to highlight the proud and long heritage of the Iraqi people."
The Mesopotamian seals are about an inch tall and a half-inch in diameter with partially preserved registration numbers that were used in the cataloging system at the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad. Mr. Garcia said expert analysis concluded the seals were genuine and a comparison to Iraqi National Museum catalog cards confirmed they once belonged to the museum collection.
"We are grateful for the vigilance of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who successfully retrieved and are now returning a part of Iraq's heritage back to where it belongs," said Mr. Sumaidaie.
Mr. Garcia said that in June 2003, Joseph Braude arrived at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York from London and, during a routine customs examination, U. …