Families lobby for PMOI visitation rights

LONDON, May 19 (UPI) -- Iranian families called on U.S. officials in Baghdad to broker visitation rights to Iranian dissidents encamped in their Diyala province enclave.

Members of the dissident People's Mujahedin of Iran are lodged in their Camp Ashraf enclave in Diyala province.

The PMOI opposes the clerical regime in Iran. Washington lists the group as a terrorist organization for its violent methods of opposition, though the group surrendered its weapons in 2003.

Iranian family members of Camp Ashraf residents called on U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill to award them the same rights that U.S. family members have with American hikers detained in Iran since July.

Family members of the hikers are expected Wednesday in Tehran.

The PMOI family members say their relatives are held captive in Camp Ashraf, adding if Washington can broker an agreement with Iran, similar arrangements are possible with the PMOI.

"If America can negotiate this with Iran, we certainly expect that you can negotiate with this small terrorist group so that its members can meet freely with their families," the families said.

The PMOI is included in the Iranian opposition movement the National Council of Resistance to Iran, a French-based group that considers itself the Iranian Parliament in exile. It denies the cult and terrorist categorization, claiming its policy is based on peaceful dissent.