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State Department Concerned over Trials of Jews in Soviet Union

The State Department has expressed concern with the continuing secret trials of Jews in the Soviet Union and deplored the three previous secret trials-the two in Leningrad and the one in Riga-as deprivations of fundamental human rights. Charles Bray, Department spokesman, issued a statement several days ago declaring that “there is great interest among Americans in these trials which have not been opened to any impartial forum of observers.” Referring to the Riga trial which ended last Thursday in which four Jews were given 1-3 year sentences at “strict labor,” Bray stated that “it would appear that the defendants were tried for actions which are not even considered a crime in most countries. We trust that the Soviet government realizes that Americans of every political persuasion and religious belief deplore the persecution of people simply for studying a foreign language, in this case, Hebrew, and for running materials off on a mimeograph machine.” Bray termed these trials abhorrent for denying the Soviet Jews the right “to freely leave any country and to travel or reside abroad in any country of their choice,” for the denial of an open trial, and persecution of people for their beliefs. “We deeply regret,” Bray stated, “these deprivations of fundamental human rights, rights which should not be in question anywhere in the second half of the 20th century.”

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