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White House Defends Its Efforts for Afghan Christian

‘We have let Afghan government know how we feel’

Along with the President’s impassioned statements, the Bush Administration is doing other things to try to save the life of Abdul Rahman, the Afghan facing the death penalty for converting to Christianity.

The President’s top spokesman would not rule out use of “back channels”—that is, behind-the-scenes and covert communication to Afghan officials—to stop the possible death sentence on Rahman.

At this morning’s briefing at the White House, I asked Press Secretary Scott McClellan: “Is the administration doing anything—say, through back-channels—aside from the President’s statement to try to save the life of the man sentenced to death in Afghanistan for his Christian beliefs?”

“Yes,” replied McClellan, “Secretary [Condoleezza] Rice spoke with Foreign Minister Abdullah yesterday. We have let the Afghan government know how we feel about this. We are in constant contact with the Afghan government to let them know we are against this. It violates the universal concept of freedom of religion that democracies hold dear, and it violates the Afghan constitution. It’s deeply troubling to people who fought and sacrificed for freedom.”

Later, Deb Orin of the New York Post asked a follow-up question about rumors that Mr. Rahman might be pardoned by the government on the grounds of being mentally unstable. McClellan said, “I’m not going to speculate on that” and “we continue to work with the government of Afghanistan.”

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John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on HumanEvents.com. Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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