'Bookseller of Kabul' to take case to Strasbourg

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Richard Orange - [email protected]
'Bookseller of Kabul' to take case to Strasbourg
Shah Muhammad Rais's bookshop in Kabul - Peretz Partensky

The family of Shah Muhammad Rais, the subjects of the best-selling 'Bookseller of Kabul', have decided to take their case against Norwegian author Asne Seierstad to the European Court of Human Rights.


The family claim that the author violated their privacy by disclosing intimate details of their lives to millions of readers, but they have so far been blocked from having their case heard in Norway by the court's demand for a surety of 800,000 Norwegian kroner ($135,000). 
"The decision was made a few days ago," the family's lawyer Per Danielsen told The Local, adding that the complaint had not yet been sent to Strasbourg, where the European court is based. 
He said he was hopeful that court would hear the case, when he submits the family's complaint later this year. 
"We believe the chances are fair. Strasbourg has several times stressed that the access to court has to be a reality for everyone, and this Rais case must be an example where you actually are refused to try a case just because you don't have enough money." 
He said that even though Rias was wealthy by Afghan standards, the Norwegian courts' demand was enough to prevent him from launching the case. 
"Rais lives in a third world country where you would have to work for about 145 years to earn that kind of money," he pointed out. 
Norway's Supreme Court earlier this year refused to hear the Rais family's plea to have the surety waived or reduced. 
In 2010, a court found in favour of Shah Muhammad Rais's second wife Suraiya Rais, who lives in Norway, ordering Seierstad to 250,000 kroner for violation of privacy, but the ruling was later overturned by an appeals court in 2012. 
Seierstad lived with Rais and his family for several months in 2003 while researching the book. The family claims she never warned them that they themselves would become the book's subject. 



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