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Release Emadeddin Baghi

The United States is calling on the Iranian government to release Emadeddin Baghi and other imprisoned human rights defenders.

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said in a written statement, “The Iranian regime’s arrest of Emadeddin Baghi, head of the Organization for the Defense of Prisoners’ Rights, demonstrates its disregard for Iranian citizens campaigning for their basic rights.”

Emadeddin Baghi is one of Iran’s most prominent human rights advocates. A former journalist, he was sentenced to three years in prison in 2000 because of his pro-democracy writings. After his release on bail in 2003, he established a non- governmental organization to promote basic rights for Iranian prisoners.

Mr. Baghi has protested vigorously against the recent wave of executions carried out by the Iranian government. Because of his work, Mr. Baghi has been relentlessly harassed by the Iranian clerical regime. He has been summoned to court on more than twenty occasions, and he and his family have been physically threatened. He was also denied permission to travel abroad and his passport was confiscated.

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Casey said that Mr. Baghi and other Iranian human rights activists, including labor leaders Mansour Osanloo and Mohammed Saleh, should be released immediately. The U.S. stands “with those defending the rights of the Iranian people,” said Mr. Casey.

President George W. Bush recently spoke of the plight of courageous people -- like Emadeddin Baghi, Mansour Osanloo, and Mohammed Saleh – who are struggling to change the ways of despotic regimes. Mr. Bush said it is important for America and other free nations to shine a spotlight on their struggles:

“It’s in our interest to rally the world and to pressure, and to keep the focus and use our respective bully pulpits – those of us in free societies — use our respective bully pulpits to remind people of the condition, the human condition in these societies that are being deeply affected by tyrannical regimes.”

“People want liberty,” said Mr. Bush. He said he would continue to rally world leaders in support of those who struggle for freedom.