Miami Herald – McClatchy News Service
Despite a judge’s order to free 36 Iranian dissidents, Iraqi security officials forcibly transferred them to a prison in southern Iraq.
BAGHDAD — Iraqi security officials beat and forcibly transferred 36 members of an Iranian dissident group to a remote southern prison despite an Iraqi judge’s orders to free them, the judge and the group’s leaders said Monday.
International human rights groups have called for government intervention to protect the Iraq-based camp of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, a militant group that’s committed to overthrowing the neighboring Iranian government.
The Shiite Muslim-led Iraqi government, which has close ties to Tehran, instead allowed its security forces to blockade the camp and carry out a July raid that left 11 MEK members dead and three dozen in custody. MEK members in Iraq and abroad are on their 70th day of a hunger strike to draw attention to the case. The detainees were moved overnight Sunday from Baghdad to a makeshift prison in the southern province of Muthanna, according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a coalition of groups that oppose the Iranian regime. MEK leaders fear they’ll face persecution and abuse.
“The specialized judge ordered their release, and the executive authorities should have carried the order out,” said Abdulsattar al Biraqdar, a spokesman for the Iraqi judiciary. “We have no knowledge what happened to them after that. Our official duty ends here, but, humanely, we are concerned.”
A senior aide to Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki refused to comment on the case, referring questions to security officials. The officials couldn’t be reached Monday.