Nobel winner's plea to Iran
The Iranian human rights activist who won this year's Nobel Peace Prize has called on the government in Tehran to free all political prisoners.
Shirin Ebadi told a news conference the most urgent issues for Iran to deal with were freedom of speech and the release of those imprisoned for expressing their opinions.
Ms Ebadi, 56, is a well-known lawyer noted especially for promoting the rights of women and children by seeking changes in Iran's divorce and inheritance laws.
She is the first Muslim woman to be awarded the prize, beating other nominees who included Pope John Paul II and former Czech President Vaclav Havel.
The Norwegian award committee said it chose her because of her focus on promoting human rights and democracy in her country.
The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran says that while reformists will be delighted, the conservative authorities see the award as a political move by Europe to increase pressure on Iran.
Ms Ebadi was the first female judge in her country, but was forced to resign following the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
She said the award, which comes with prize money of $1.3m, had been a shock but that she was "very happy and glad" about it.
"I hope it will have an effect in Iran.
"As a person who has actively been involved in human rights, I am against war and conflict, and countries and nations do not need war," she said speaking at a news conference in Paris - where she is visiting - hours after the award was announced.
The chairman of the five-member selection committee, Ole Danbolt Mjoes, paid tribute to Ms Ebadi's work at home and abroad, saying she understood that "No society can be seen as democratic without women being represented".
"As a lawyer, judge, lecturer, writer and activist, she has spoken out clearly and strongly in her country, Iran, and far beyond its borders," the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in a statement announcing the decision.
The committee said she was a "sound professional, a courageous person, and has never heeded the threat to her own safety".
The result surprised observers worldwide - Pope John Paul II was the bookies' favourite to scoop the prestigious award this year amid speculation that he is nearing death.
The Nobel committee emphasised that its choice should be seen as a statement about human rights.
"This is a message to the Iranian people, to the Muslim world, to the whole world, that human value, the fight for freedom, the fight for rights of women and children should be at the centre," Mr Mjoes said.
"I hope the award of the peace prize to Ebadi can help strengthen and lend support to the cause of human rights in Iran," he added.
Ms Ebadi is the 11th woman to win the prize and the third Muslim.
The BBC's correspondent in Tehran says that for the Iranian to win is an enormous boost for human rights campaigners there and a source of great delight to her supporters.
But it will also be something of an embarrassment.
"Hardliners who run the judiciary will see it as outsiders now trying to intervene in Iranian politics.
"It is an embarrassment to them to see someone they have vilified held up as a shining example," he said
Iranian state media reported the award without comment, according to Reuters news agency.
Good choice, imo. Thank God (
) they didn't give it to the pope.