Sunday, March 7, 2010

US Urges IR Iran to Free Death-Row Protester

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Agence France Presse (AFP) /

The United States urged Iran Friday to free a student said to face the death penalty over anti-government protests, warning Tehran that its rights record was worsening its ties with the world. Opposition websites said Wednesday that an appeals court confirmed a death sentence on 20-year-old Mohammad Amin Valian for "waging war against God" by throwing stones at security forces during December protests. "We find this disproportionate punishment deplorable and urge his immediate release," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said in a statement. "If the Iranian government wants the respect of the international community, it must respect the fundamental freedoms of its people," he said, calling for the Islamic republic to free all political prisoners.

Valian took part in anti-government protests on December 27 during the Shiite mourning holiday of Ashura. At least eight people were killed in the protests, the bloodiest since last year's disputed election. In January, Iran said it executed two members of a monarchist group who were put on trial with post-election protesters, although the exact timing of their arrest was unclear. US President Barack Obama last year reached out to Iran, saying he wanted to repair three decades of bad blood between the countries since the overthrow of the pro-Western shah. But the Obama administration has been alarmed by Iran's defiance on its disputed nuclear program along with its human rights record.