The United States called on Polish authorities yesterday to release Solidarity leader Lech Walesa from house arrest to speak to the Polish people and the world, and appealed for the release of thousands of other political prisoners.
A statement released by the State Department also charged that "the martial-law regime has adopted a policy of using violence to restore law and order." And it repeated President Reagan's remark of Thursday that "violence invites violence and threatens to plunge Poland into chaos."
In Bonn, the West German parliament called on Poland to release those arrested and threatened to withhold economic aid if repression continues. Details on Page A15.
The latest U.S. statements came as Poland headed into what Washington analysts consider a weekend during which the success or failure of the martial-law crackdown may become much clearer. If resistance diminishes despite a general strike called for Saturday, the worst may be over for the military council led by Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski. But if resistance continues at a high level or mounts, this may be taken as a sign in Poland and the Soviet Union that the measures of the last six days are not enough to deal with Solidarity and the Polish people.
Soviet Marshal Viktor Kulikov, commander in chief of Warsaw Pact forces who arrived in Warsaw about Dec. 7, six days before last Saturday's sudden crackdown, is reported by U.S. intelligence to have returned to Moscow Thursday. While communications continue in a very active state between Moscow and Warsaw, U.S. intelligence has not detected mobilization steps of the sort that would be necessary to complete preparations for a Soviet invasion, sources said.
A senior State Department official, speaking to reporters in a "background" session yesterday, forecast that any overt Soviet intervention in Poland would be "more ambiguous than dramatic . . . a creeping involvement."
The same point was reported to have been made Thursday by Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. in a closed meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
While there is consensus in the Western alliance that Soviet intervention would have "profound, severe and longlasting consequences," according to the official, he indicated that there is not yet a consensus about the effect or the Western response to a martial-law suppression in which the Soviet role is masked.
Assistant Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger will fly to London Sunday in the latest attempt to work out a joint strategy with the Western allies, State Department sources said. Reporters were told that foreign ministers of the allied nations have agreed to meet in emergency session "if things get worse" in Poland.
The senior State Department official who spoke to journalists said the administration had concluded within the past six months that drastic Soviet intervention was less likely than a crackdown by the Polish military. The official took offense at remarks Thursday by Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle that "a collective failure" of intelligence had been involved in not anticipating such an event.
U.S. leverage in the current situation, according to the official, is best exerted by "maintaining the demeanor of Western unity" and by shoring up the position of the Roman Catholic Church, which he said is "an extremely important vehicle for restraining excesses in the suppression of the Polish people." The official did not elaborate on U.S. backing for the church.
Polish authorities have told the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw that "no more than 4,000" people have been detained under martial law, State Department spokesman Dean Fischer announced. (Western European governments, however, say they have received unofficial information putting the arrest total at 15,000 to 75,000.)
According to U.S. reports, Fischer went on to say, many prisoners are being held in inadequate facilities and "are not being accorded humane treatment."
Fischer said it is "extremely disturbing" that Walesa is being held under "de facto house arrest" and has not been allowed to reassure the world about his welfare.
In New Orleans, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) challenged the Polish government to "bring Lech Walesa forward now" to prove he is in good health and not under duress. Kennedy spoke to a meeting of the Louisiana Democratic Party.
Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), meanwhile, appealed to Reagan to grant blanket political asylum to any Polish citizens who seek it, and to aid 50,000 Poles in Austria to travel here or elsewhere.