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Ancient artifacts seized from Hobby Lobby returned to Iraq
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Thousands of ancient clay tablets, seals and other Iraqi archaeological objects that were smuggled into the U.S. and shipped to the head of arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby were returned to the Iraqi government on Wednesday. The Oklahoma City-based private company, whose devout Christian owners won a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling exempting them from providing certain contraceptive coverage for employees, agreed to pay a $3 million fine last year to settle a lawsuit over the company's role in the smuggling of the artifacts, which authorities say were looted from the war-torn country. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Washington handed over the artifacts Wednesday to Iraq's ambassador to the U.S., Fareed Yasseen.___ HOW DID HOBBY LOBBY ACQUIRE THE ARTIFACTS? Prosecutors say Steve Green, the president of the $4 billion company, agreed to buy more than 5,500 artifacts in 2010 for $1.6 million in a scheme that involved a number of middlemen and the use of phony or misleading invoices, shipping labels and other paperwork to slip the artifacts past U.S. customs agents.

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