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Billy Graham Calls on Christians to Join Prayer for Riga Defendants

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The Rev. Dr. Billy Graham, the prominent evangelist and outspoken supporter of Israel, called on the Christian world today to “join in prayer” for the Jewish defendants in Riga, Dr. Graham, in a message released here and at his Minneapolis headquarters, said he was “deeply concerned and disturbed” at the trial of the four Jews, since “apparently their only crime is that they are Jewish.” He singled out 24-year-old defendant Ruth Aleksandrovich, calling her “one of the youngest political prisoners in the world” and noting that she “has been imprisoned and held incommunicado in Riga for nine months.” The Graham statement was read here at a meeting called by the American Jewish Committee, at which Mrs. Rivka Aleksandrovich, the mother of the defendant, addressed 30 Christian leaders. The sixteen who stayed to the end of the two-hour program signed a telegram to President Nixon urging him to “intercede” with the Soviet authorities to effect “the release and restoration of (the prisoners’) full religious and civil rights.”

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