Iran activist urges U.S. to stay away

Aug. 13, 2006 at 10:11 AM
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LOS ANGELES, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Iranian reformist Akbar Ganji pleaded with the United States during a visit to California not to interfere monetarily or militarily in Iran.

Ganji, one of the leading proponents of democracy in Iran who was released five months ago after six years imprisonment in the country, said Iran must be allowed to take its own path to reform without U.S. involvement, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

"We have to change the regime through our own challenges and struggles," Ganji said in Los Angeles. "The U.S. cannot do it for us."

The leader said at a gathering sponsored by actor Sean Penn and producer Mike Medavoy that U.S. military intervention or funding of political opposition would undermine the cause for democracy in the country by giving the current regime excuses for censorship and other oppressive measures. He said the Iranian government has already been trying to convince the people of the country that the opposition movement consists of "foreign agents."

However, Ganji said the United States can help the cause for democracy in Iran by promoting technological, cultural and educational ties with the country.

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