Coin Dealers Sue State Dept. for Details on Import Bans

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Three organizations representing coin collectors and dealers have filed a lawsuit against the State Department demanding greater disclosure of how the government makes decisions on the import of ancient artifacts from abroad.

The suit, filed jointly on Thursday by the three groups in Federal District Court in Washington, asserts that the State Department violated the Freedom of Information Act when it failed to release documents that the coin collectors had sought concerning recent decisions in which the State Department either considered or imposed import restrictions on ancient coins. The documents involve trade between the United States and Italy, China and the Republic of Cyprus.

If the coin collectors prevail, the State Department may be compelled to shed more light on the way it makes decisions on protecting the cultural property of other nations, a process that many art dealers, museum directors and collectors argue has been unnecessarily shrouded in secrecy.

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