Dutch Delegation Told That They Cannot Visit Shcharansky
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Dutch Delegation Told That They Cannot Visit Shcharansky

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A five-member Dutch delegation visited the Soviet Ambassador in The Hague yesterday to ask for visas to visit imprisoned Soviet Jewish activist Anatoly Shcharansky for humanitarian reasons. They were turned down on grounds that convicted spies may not receive visitors from abroad.

Shcharansky, serving a 13-year sentence for alleged treason, has been on a hunger strike since Yom Kippur to protest the denial of visits or letters from members of his family. The Dutch group told the Soviet envoy they were disturbed by reports that his physical condition has deteriorated seriously and wanted to visit him without going into the question of his guilt or innocence.

The Ambassador promised to transmit their request to Moscow but could offer little hope it would be granted. He said Shcharansky is a criminal convicted of espionage and as such is forbidden visits by foreigners. The delegation consisted of two Labor members of Parliament of Jewish origin, Ed Van Thijn and Harry Van Den Bergh; Prof. Hendrik Berkhof, until recently chairman of the Dutch Protestant Council of Churches; Prof. Jan Pen and Mient Jan Faber. Faber has been active in the anti-nuclear movement.


In Geneva, meanwhile, three Swiss groups sent messages to Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev expressing concern that Shcharonsky’s hunger strike would cost him his life. If he dies, the responsibility will be on the Soviet government, they said. They urged that Shcharansky be released immediately and permitted to emigrate.

The groups are the Swiss League of Human Rights, the Supporters of East European Dissidents and the Uri Orlov Committee. They said they planned to collect signatures on a petition on behalf of Shcharansky.

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