Clinton: No Basis for Charges Against Hikers in Iran

By Gorman Gorman

Dec 14, 2009 1:44pm

ABC News' Kirit Radia reports: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said charges against three American hikers detained in Iran are unfounded and she reiterated a call for their release. Earlier today Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said at a press conference that the three would be put on trial, presumably for espionage, after having spent over four months in jail for having illegally crossed into Iran. "We consider this a totally unfounded charge. There is no basis for it.  The three young people who were detained by the Iranians have absolutely no connection with any kind of action against the Iranian state or government.  In fact, they were out hiking and unfortunately, apparently, allegedly walked across an unmarked boundary.  We appeal to the Iranian leadership to release these three young people, and to free them as soon as possible," Clinton told reporters.

Americans Sara Shourd, Josh Fattal, and Shane Bauer have been detained in Iran since allegedly crossing into Iran during a hike through northern Iraq on July 31. A fourth hiker, who did not join the three on that day because he was ill, said his companions had no intention of entering Iran and had no idea they were so close to the border.
In November, Iranian sources told ABC News that the three were to be charged espionage. Today the State Department spokesman said the US has not received formal confirmation of any charges, but added that Clinton was referring to press reports of espionage charges.The State Department says the last such meetings was on October 29.

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