White House Ups Pressure on Iran After Effort to Quash Anti-Government Protests

From ABC's Tahman Bradley:

National Security Advisor Tom Donilon upped administration pressure on Iran Saturday after the ruling regime took action against anti-government protests and placed a prominent opposition leader under house arrest.

"By announcing that they will not allow opposition protests, the Iranian government has declared illegal for Iranians what it claimed was noble for Egyptians," Donilon said in a statement. "We call on the government of Iran to allow the Iranian people the universal right to peacefully assemble, demonstrate and communicate that’s being exercised in Cairo."

Yesterday, unprompted, outgoing White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs mentioned the Iranian government's actions arresting people, blocking international media and turning off the Internet. He also addressed comments made by the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard announcing that seditionists will be severely crushed.

"We now know what -- how (Iran is) responding to the images that we see in Tahrir Square," Gibbs said. "The Iranian government should allow the Iranian people to exercise the very same right of peaceful assembly and ability to demonstrate and communicate their desires."

A critic of Iran's leaders, Mehdi Karroubi, a former head of parliament in Iran, was placed under house arrest Thursday so that he could not take part in a rally to celebrate the anniversary of Iran's revolution.

Also on Saturday, President Obama placed calls to a number of foreign leaders to discuss developments in Egypt one day after President Hosni Mubarak's departure. The White House says the president spoke with the prime minister of the UK, King Abdulla of Jordan and the prime minister of Turkey. In his discussions, Mr. Obama welcomed the Egyptian Army's commitment to democratic civil transition, the White House says.

- Tahman Bradley

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