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Two Still Held, 15 On Hunger Strike

January 21, 1989

VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ Two of 25 human rights activists arrested by Bulgarian authorities were still being held Friday, and several others were on hunger strike to protest police harassment, emigre sources said.

The two under arrest and facing prosecution were identified as Lubomir Sobachiev and Sabri Andiev from Russe, a city close to the Romanian border.

The 25 members of the Society for the Protection of Human Rights were arrested before the visit to Sofia this week of French President Francois Mitterrand.

French diplomats learned of the arrests and most of the activists were subsequently released from police custody but placed under house arrest.

There were conflicting reports about how many rights activists remained under house arrest. They included Petar Manolov, Grigor Simov Bozhilov and Dimitar Tomor, said the International Helsinki Federation in Vienna.

Nine of those released went on a hunger strike this week to protest police action, the federation reported. But Eduard Genov, an emigre member of the Society, told The Associated Press he had learned that at least 15 were on hunger strike and others had planned to join them.

Genov, who was reached in Los Angeles by telephone, said Grigor Simov, Blagoi Topuzliev and Ilie Minev, the chairman of the Society for the Protection of Human Rights, also were under house arrest in different Bulgarian towns.

Manolov has been informed he will be charged with ″consciously spreading spreading false allegations against the government″, for which they could face imprisonment of up to three years, according to the Helsinki Federation.

The Society for the Protection of Human Rights in Bulgaria was founded in January 1988. Membership ranges between 100 and 200, according to several reports.