In a written statement, President George W. Bush has called on the government of Iran to release Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji. Mr. Ganji was sentenced to jail for advocating free speech and because of his political views.
In his statement, President Bush addressed the journalist directly: "Mr. Ganji, please know that as you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you."
Akbar Ganji was sent to prison in 2000 after writing a series of newspaper articles implicating Iranian government officials in the murders of political dissidents and intellectuals in the 1990s.
Mr. Ganji has called for democratic reform in Iran. He is in poor health and was recently hospitalized. He has described Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, as a dictator and urged him to make himself accountable to the Iranian people.
On the same day that the White House issued its statement of support, at least one-hundred fifty people, most of them students, gathered at Tehran University to call for the release of Akbar Ganji and other Iranian political prisoners. According to press reports, police struck both male and female Iranian protestors with batons to break up the demonstration.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan says Iran's clerical rulers are "the unelected few that are denying the people their rights:
"They're denying freedom of the press; they're denying freedom of assembly; they're denying rule of law; they're denying equal justice."
Akbar Ganji is only one victim of a wave of repression and human rights violations by the Iranian government. In his statement, President Bush called on “all supporters of human rights and freedom, and the United Nations, to take up Ganji's case and the overall human rights situation in Iran."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.