The White House on Tuesday condemned Iraqi dissidents who seized their country's embassy in Germany to press for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Press secretary Ari Fleischer also told reporters that the United States had no prior knowledge of -- and no contacts with -- the dissidents who nonetheless share Bush's goal of ousting Saddam's regime in Iraq.

"Actions like this takeover are unacceptable. They undermine legitimate efforts by Iraqis both inside and outside Iraq to bring regime change to Iraq," Fleischer said in Texas, where Bush was vacationing at his ranch.

Fleischer noted that the Iraqi National Congress, another dissident group working in concert with the Bush administration to undermine Saddam, also condemned the armed men who seized Iraq's embassy in Berlin Tuesday morning and took several hostages. A group called the Democratic Iraqi Opposition of Germany claimed responsibility for the incident, which ended within hours when police freed the hostages.

Asked by a reporter why the United States would not consider the dissidents in Berlin "freedom fighters" or revolutionaries, Fleischer responded: "At all times the American position is to support the rule of law, the rule of international law. ... It is not acceptable to have takeovers of other nations' embassies. That is not consistent with the rule of law, even against a regime that is as evil as Iraq's."