The real promoters of Iranian democracy, i.e. those who RESIDE IN IRAN and face threats and harassments, such as Emadedin Baghi, the founder of the Organization for Prisoner's Right, have strongly opposed such allocation of funds towards democracy in Iran.
In a letter to the International Human Rights Organization, in May 2007, Baghi wrote:
The allocation of yearly funds has led to the Iranian government's widespread concern and suspicion towards civil society organizations and human rights activists, clearly exacerbating in significant ways pressures on them and the number of arrests. Undoubtedly, not all these pressures and arrests are reflective of recently developed government concerns and suspicions. Forces that are against liberty also use the U.S. budget allocation as a pretext or excuse to legitimize their opposition to civil liberties and to discredit their critics.Please write to Congress and oppose allocation of such funds! Spend them on your soldiers and veterans! Iran doesn't want some exiled "liberator"! Our activists and democratic leaders live in Iran! These American funds SERIOUSLY DAMAGE the course of democracy in Iran, and put innocent scholars such as Haleh Esfandiari in jail.
In such an atmosphere, individuals and organizations that are more active and well-known are easier to spot and hence easier to threaten. In the past two years, we have been witness to numerous accusations hurled against civil society institutions such as the Society for Defending Prisoner's Rights. Such organizations have also faced investigation and even closure of their offices. In the past 14 months, for instance, I have been summoned by the Iranian judiciary or intelligence organizations 7 times but have not publicized the matter in order to avoid political tensions. I think it time to change course and act in different ways. I would like to state categorically that it is neither wise nor morally justifiable for the United States to continue its path, without due respect or concern for the specific harm and harassment the so-called democracy fund entails for human rights activists in Iran. It is not right for independent individuals and institutions inside Iran to pay the price for allocated funds that the United States government spends on broadcasting from the United States into Iran or for the activities of exiled Iranian groups that cooperate with various American organizations.