US shocked by Iranian claims that Neda’s death was staged (Lead)

July 2nd, 2009 - 11:13 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, July 2 (DPA) Iranian claims that the death of a young Iranian woman was staged during the recent demonstrations to tarnish the government’s image is “shocking” and equate to a “campaign of misinformation”, the White House has said.
“That is the ongoing campaign of misinformation about what’s going on,” spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday. “I think the notion that the death of an innocent woman would be staged is - even with them - it’s shocking.”

Iranian police chief Ismaeil Ahmadi-Moqadam said in Tehran earlier Wednesday the killing of 27-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan during mass protests June 20 was a “pre-planned scenario” to harm Iran’s image abroad.

The bloody death of Agha-Soltan, simply known as Neda, was captured on video tape and has been viewed millions of times on the Internet. She was shot near one of the ongoing demonstrations that have taken place daily since the June 12 presidential election.

Demonstrators say Neda was shot by a militant loyal to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who defeated reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Moussavi. Moussavi supporters have since taken to the streets by the tens of thousands, alleging the outcome was rigged.

Neda was gunned down by a sniper’s bullet after getting out of a car. She was struck in the chest and died moments later while choking on her own blood.

Iran has accused the United States and European countries of meddling in the turmoil and fomenting the demonstrations - allegations strongly denied. President Barack Obama has called on the Iranian government to end the violent crackdown against demonstrators and support the right of protesters to express themselves.

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