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FOIA Suit Filed Against US Dept of State

The ACCG is joined by IAPN and PNG in a complaint filed against the U.S. State Department

Freedom of Information ActGAINESVILLE, Mo., Nov. 15 – The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG), an advocacy group for private collectors and independent scholars, announced the filing today of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U. S. State Department (DOS).

Ancient Coin Collectors GuildAccording to Wayne G. Sayles, executive director of the guild, this action became unavoidable due to persistent refusal of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to provide the guild and others with information relating to requests for import restrictions.

The DOS recently imposed unprecedented import restrictions on ancient coins from Cyprus, requiring importers of even a single common coin of Cypriot type to provide unfair, unworkable and unnecessary documentation.

The ACCG seeks information relating to requests from Cyprus, China and Italy. In each case, apparent irregularities in the way these requests were handled led to significant concerns. Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives also requested similar information on behalf of the ACCG and others. “None of these avenues produced responsive replies,” said Peter K. Tompa, ACCG president. “The reason for this lawsuit is that the DOS has refused to provide meaningful information. We seek transparency and fairness of the process by which decisions affecting the American people are made.”

The ACCG, joined in this suit by the International Association of Professional Numismatists and the Professional Numismatists Guild, is represented by Washington DC attorney Scott A. Hodes. Mr. Hodes is a former FOIA and Privacy Act attorney for the Department of Justice and the FBI.

The imposition of import restrictions is a remedy made available to DOS by the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA) enacted in 1983. This law, while providing emergency protection for endangered cultural property, includes a detailed and comprehensive safeguards to limit overreaching implementation of the 1970 UNESCO accord.

The fair and equitable application of this law is viewed by the coin collector community and associated trade as essential to achieving any measure of protection on a broad and continuing scale. The ACCG (http://accg.us) argues that fairness and equity can only be satisfied by a system that is transparent and subject to oversight. They hope that this lawsuit will help encourage the State Department to revamp its procedures to ensure the fundamental fairness to all that the law demands.

Those wishing to support this and other potential legal action on behalf of the ACCG may make donations by credit card or paypal through the donation link at the bottom of the front page of the ACCG web site at http://accg.us. Donations by check may be mailed to Ancient Coin Collectors Guild, P.O. Box 911, Gainesville, MO 65655.

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