Two members of Sweden's Academy of Letters, guardian of the Nobel Literature Prize, resigned their life memberships Tuesday over the committee's refusal to fully support author Salman Rushdie.

Novelists Kerstin Ekman and Lars Gyllensten said they could no longer be members of a body that had failed to condemn Iran's death threats against the British author of "The Satanic Verses.""The Salman Rushdie case is a question of moral and political freedom as well as the freedom of the written word. I don't think the academy took a strong enough stand to support the free word against oppression," Gyllensten told reporters.

Unable to agree on how to respond to Iran's threats against Rushdie, the 18-member academy earlier this month issued a statement deploring attacks on freedom of speech but failed to mention either Rushdie or Iran.