Toronto couple sue Iranian Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi over book deal

A Toronto couple are suing Iran's 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi for reneging on an agreement to co-author and help publish a book.

A Canadian couple is suing 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi for reneging on an agreement to co-author a book.

Ebadi, a human rights lawyer in Iran, was the first Muslim woman to be awarded the prize.

Shahir Shahidsaless and his wife Faranak Shakoori of Toronto filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan late on Thursday.

The suit is seeking $1.3 million US to cover the cost of writing the book which remains unpublished.

Documents indicate Shahidsaless, a political analyst, spent 18 months working on A Useful Enemy, a project he says was initiated by Ebadi in 2004.

The Toronto man says Ebadi suggested they both write a book in response to Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilisations, which argues Islamic and Western societies are incompatible.

Shahidsaless contends the Nobel winner detailed the themes and chapters of the book and proposed writing a chapter that dealt with Islam and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Shahidsaless says things started to go sour in January 2006 when he met with Ebadi in Manhattan and she mentioned she had just signed a contract to publish her memoir, Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope.

In that meeting, Shahidsaless says Ebadi agreed to approach the publishers, Random House, to also produce the co-written book.

In July, Ebadi sent an email saying her literary agent and Random House recommended she not publish the second book because it would damage sales of her future books.

In the lawsuit, Shahidsaless argues he lost at least $1 million US because the book is not published and he did not receive the fame and notoriety that would have enabled him to publish other books.

It said he and his wife are owed another $300,000 US for researching, writing, typing and translating the book.

Random House and Ebadi's New York agent, Wendy J. Stothman, have not commented on the suit.

With files from the Associated Press