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White House calls for Iran to release 'political prisoners' amid protest crackdown
The White House on Wednesday called for the Iranian government to end its crackdown on widespread demonstrations and release thousands of protesters who have reportedly been jailed in recent weeks.
In a statement, press secretary sarah huckabee sanders said that the Trump administration is "deeply concerned" by reports that thousands of peaceful protesters have been arrested amid massive anti-government protests, and called other reports that some prisoners had been tortured or killed "even more disturbing."
"Iran's regime claims to support democracy, but when its own people express their aspirations for better lives and an end to injustice, it once again shows its true brutal nature," Sanders said.
"The United States calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Iran, including the victims of the most recent crackdown."
According to recent media reports, as many as 3,700 people have been arrested as a result of the protests - the largest in Iran since the Green Revolution of 2009.
Protesters first took to the streets late last month to voice discontent with economic stagnation and high unemployment in the country. Those demonstrations turned against the government more broadly, with some protesters calling for the deaths of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
In his first public remarks on the unrest earlier this month, Khamenei blamed Tehran's foreign "enemies" for the demonstrations, which have faded in recent days amid a government crackdown.
The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a resolution expressing support for the demonstrations, while condemning the Iranian government's crackdown on the dissent.