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U.S. "deeply concerned" about Iran court ruling

WASHINGTON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday expressed deep concern over the sentencing of leading Iranian dissidents for taking part in a Berlin conference last year, and urged the international community to join in condemning Iran's actions.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher issued a statement sharply criticizing the crackdown and urging Iran to "remedy these unjust convictions and to carefully review other cases of unjust imprisonment."

"The United States is deeply concerned by the conviction of 10 leading Iranian writers, intellectuals, and political figures earlier this week, for their participation in a conference in Berlin sponsored by the Heinrich Boell Foundation entitled 'Post-Elections Iran'," Boucher said.

"The arrests, and associated detention and trials of these individuals, represent a setback for human rights in Iran and a clear violation of the individual's right to freedom of expression and association," he said.

Boucher called on other countries to join Washington "in a clear and unambiguous condemnation of this verdict."

He said the U.S. State Department's annual human rights report had clearly documented Iran's continuing failure to abide by international standards of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and due process under the law.

Germany and the European Union have already issued public statements expressing concern about the the verdicts imposed Iran's Revolutionary Court on a group of reform activists.

The Revolutionary Court sentenced a top newspaper editor to 10 years' jail and five years' internal exile last weekend and gave other activists between four and 10 years for their parts in a Berlin conference on Iran last year.


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