Ahmadinejad Hints at Possible Prisoner Exchange for 3 U.S. Hikers; State Department: "We're Not Interested"
alternet.org / Omid Memarian

Six months after three U.S. citizens mistakenly crossed the Iran-Iraq border, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Iran could be willing to exchange them for Iranians imprisoned in the U.S.

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 3, 2010 (IPS) -- Six months after Iranian authorities arrested three U.S. citizens who mistakenly crossed the unmarked border between Iran and Iraq, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that Iran could be willing to exchange them for Iranians imprisoned in the United States.

In an interview with Iran's state television, Ahmadinejad said, "We are having talks to have an exchange if it is possible."

He did not specify any Iranian prisoners by name. But he added that the United States has "abducted" Iranian citizens from other countries and even "pressured other countries to arrest many of our citizens."

The U.S. State Department quickly dismissed the overture.

"We're not interested in a swap per se," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters Wednesday. "We are interested in resolving the cases of our citizens."

On Jul. 31, 2009, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal were hiking near the Ahmed Awa waterfall in Iraqi Kurdistan when news reports say they mistakenly crossed the unmarked border into Iran. They have been detained since, and have had no contact with their families.

In November last year, five British citizens, whose yacht had drifted into Iranian waters, were detained but released after a week... >>>

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