Three dozen former U.S. officials are urging President Obama, who meets Friday with Iraq's prime minister, to demand that the prime minister release seven kidnapped Iranian dissidents and help relocate thousands of others guaranteed U.S. protection at a refugee camp in Baghdad.
"Only your intervention can save their lives," they said in a letter to Mr. Obama.
The former officials — who include ex-CIA directors, retired generals and former diplomats — accused Iraqi troops, acting on behalf of Iran, of executing 52 dissidents and kidnapping the seven Iranians in a Sept. 1 attack on Camp Ashraf.
The victims were among about 100 dissidents who remained in that refugee camp north of the Iraqi capital to protect property belonging to about 3,000 others who relocated to Camp Liberty, near Baghdad International Airport.
All carried U.S. identification cards classifying them as "protected persons" under international treaties.
"This was premeditated murder planned at the highest level [of the Iraqi government] and carried out by Iraqi forces and agents, using equipment and training provided by United States forces," the former U.S. officials said in their letter.
They also expressed fear the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki intends to turn the dissidents over to Iran to face execution.
The dissidents are the formerly armed wing of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which has fought for the overthrow of the Iranian theocratic regime for decades.
The armed rebels turned over their weapons to U.S. forces after the ouster of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.
They were under U.S. protection until 2009, when Iraq took over the administration of the refugee camps.
The signers of the letter to Mr. Obama include several prominent Democrats such as former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a former party chairman; and Patrick J. Kennedy, a former congressman from Rhode Island.
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
• Defense Minister Artis Pabriks of Latvia, who briefs the Heritage Foundation on security challenges in the Baltics.
• Carlos Perez Guartambel, head of the Ecuarunari indigenous people's righs group in Ecuador, and Enrique Herreria, director of the Observatory of Rights and Justice of Ecuador. They address the Inter-American Dialogue.
• Zhang Qing and Yang Tianjiao, the wife and the daughter of persecuted Chinese human rights activist Yang Maodong, and Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese democracy advocate. They testify before the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, global health, global human rights and international organizations at 2:30 p.m. in Room 2255 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
• Viviane Reding of the European Commission, who speaks at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
•Rashad Karimov, a senior researcher at Azerbaijan's Center for Strategic Studies; David Nardaia of the Georgian Defense Ministry; David Oniani, deputy director of the Georgian State Oil and Gas Corp.; and business executives Tatyana Bystrushkina and Ibrahim Musaev of Uzbekistan, Munkhbat Davaatseren of Mongolia, Marat Djanbaev and Almas Otynshiyev of Kyrgyzstan, Diana Gaziyan of Armenia, and Nazir Sharipov of Tajikistan. They address the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
• Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq, who meets with President Obama.
• Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @EmbassyRow.
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