12:57 GMT +321 February 2019
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    White House Urges Release of Political Prisoners in Iran, Including Protesters

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    The White House has issued a statement in which it condemned arrests during recent protests in Iran, promising to hold Tehran accountable for the "crackdown".

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States is calling on Iran to release all political prisoners, including those sent to prison for protesting in recent weeks, the White House said in a statement on Wednesday.

    "The United States calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Iran, including the victims of the most recent crackdown," the statement said.

    "We will not remain silent as the Iranian dictatorship represses the basic rights of its citizens and will hold Iran’s leaders accountable for any violations," the White House said.

    Anti-government protests erupted recently in several major cities in Iran, including Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan and Rasht. The people have taken to the streets to protest against policies of Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, as well as against unemployment, poverty, and the rising cost of living.

    Around 42,000 Iranians had participated in the rallies, according to Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli. 450 people have been detained and 20 reportedly died.

    Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said earlier that the demonstrations were the result of a US-Israeli scheme funded by a Persian Gulf state, referring to evidence of intelligence. He stressed that the United States and the United Kingdom had failed to create unrest in Iran.


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