From Capitol Hill to Brussels politicians urge Kerry to demand release of Camp Ashraf hostages

The seven Camp Ashraf hostages are recognized as ‘protected persons’
Source: The Washington Times, Embassy Row
By: James Morrison
From Capitol Hill to Brussels, supporters of the Iranian opposition are urging Secretary of State John F. Kerry to take action against Iraq for the massacre of 52 Iranian exiles by Iraqi gunmen.

[The seven Camp Ashraf hostages are recognized as ‘protected persons’]

Thirty-four House members urged Mr. Kerry to cut funds for Iraq until Baghdad takes “clear and verifiable efforts” to protect more than 3,000 dissidents in a refugee camp near the international airport.

They called on Mr. Kerry to demand the release of seven hostages taken during a Sept. 1 raid on Camp Ashraf, a smaller camp north of the capital.

The House members and other lawmakers noted that most of the victims were shot in the head and many had their hands tied behind their backs.

Sen. Roy Blunt said in a separate letter to Mr. Kerry that the U.S. is obligated to protect the dissidents, the former armed wing of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. U.S. troops disarmed the exiles in 2003 and promised to guarantee their safety. The Obama administration turned them over to Iraq in 2009.

“We have a moral, if not legal, obligation to follow through on that commitment,” said the Missouri Republican, a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

Sen. Jerry Moran, Kansas Republican, called on Mr. Kerry to “redouble” efforts to resettle the dissidents outside of Iraq, whose government is increasingly pro-Iranian.

From Brussels, a member of the European Parliament warned Mr. Kerry about the possible extradition of the seven hostages to Iran, where they would be executed.

“If these asylum-seekers are now forcibly returned to Iran to face certain torture and execution, the U.S. will share responsibility for their fate,” said Struan Stevenson, a Scottish Conservative and president the parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq.

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