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Iran Urged To Release Prisoners


Iran Urged To Release Prisoners
The Iranian government has reportedly charged a respected American journalist and graduate student with espionage. Roxana Saberi, who has lived in Iran for the past 6 years, was arbitrarily arrested for allegedly purchasing a bottle of wine and has been detained for over 2 months in Evin prison.

In March, Iran's deputy prosecutor Hassan Haddad said Ms. Saberi would be released in "a few days." Now he is quoted as saying her case has been given to the Revolutionary Court, which handles national security matters.

In response to reports of the charges files against Ms. Saberi, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton once again voiced her concern:

"We are deeply concerned by the news that we’re hearing. ... I will, as will the rest of the [State] Department, continue to follow this very closely. And we wish for her speedy release and return to her family."

The Iranian judiciary's decision to issue baseless charges against Roxana Saberi is once again shining a spotlight on the Islamic Republic of Iran's chronic failure to comply with international and regional human rights agreements that it has ratified: specifically, the right to a fair trial outlined in Article 10, and the right to freedom of expression in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which are also enshrined in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Earlier this week the State Department also called for the release of an aid worker for a U.S.-based non-governmental organization. Silva Harotonian, an Iranian citizen of Armenian descent, was an administrative assistant with the International Research and Exchanges Board, or IREX, a humanitarian organization that facilitates professional exchanges.

She was arrested on June 26, 2008 on a business trip to Tehran for IREX's Maternal and Child Health Education and Exchange program. In January 2009 she was sentenced to 3 years in prison for allegedly plotting against the Iranian government.

U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Robert Wood said that claims that Ms. Harotonian was promoting a so-called velvet revolution in Iran are "baseless." He noted that she is reportedly "in poor and deteriorating health as a direct consequence of her confinement."

The United States joins the international community in urging the Islamic Republic of Iran's Ministry of Justice to uphold the legal provisions as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which Iran is a signatory.
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