Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday called on Iran to release all political prisoners and expressed alarm about the fate of several specific detainees.
Clinton said the U.S. believes that several Iranians are in danger of imminent execution for speaking out against the disputed June 2009 presidential election. She named three: Jafar Kazemi, Mohammad Haj Aghaei and Javad Lari.
"The United States urges the Iranian government to halt these executions in accordance with its obligations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners and imprisoned human rights defenders," she said.
In her written statement, Clinton urged solidarity with the Iranian people, saying the U.S. is deeply concerned that Iran is denying its citizens their civil rights.
Clinton did not say why she was speaking out on this issue now.
Earlier in the day her spokesman, P.J. Crowley, told reporters that the issue of human rights abuses in Iran is likely to be on the agenda if the U.S. and Iran and other nations meet in the fall to discuss Iran's nuclear program.
"We obviously have concerns, long-standing concerns about the persecution of minorities inside Iran," Crowley said. "It is not a tolerant society."
Clinton also mentioned the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, whose sentence of death by stoning was lifted in July. That announcement came after international outrage over plans to execute the mother of two for adultery -- an offense her supporters say she confessed to under duress.
"We remain troubled" by her case, Clinton said, noting that while the government said she would not face execution by stoning, "her fate is unclear."