Sunday, August 10, 2003

The author of a book on rebuilding Iraq was arrested at Kennedy International Airport for allegedly smuggling stolen 4,000-year-old Mesopotamian artifacts out of Baghdad, authorities said yesterday.

Joseph Braude, author of The New Iraq, was released on a $100,000 bail after a preliminary appearance yesterday in federal court.

Braude, 28, brought the priceless artifacts into the U. S. on June 11, U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf said. He was arrested Friday night after arriving at the airport on a flight from London, she said.

Braude bought the three cylindrical stone seals, made of marble and alabaster, for $200 US during a visit to Baghdad in June, authorities said.

Braude faces up to five years in prison if convicted of smuggling the artifacts. He did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

A Columbia University professor called in to examine the seals determined they were of the Akkadian period, dating back to 2340-2180 BC.

They were apparently swiped from the national museum, authorities said.

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