Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted that the two imprisoned hikers, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, will soon be released “as a humanitarian gesture” from Iran where they have been held for more than two years.
“I did say within the next few days and I still say the same thing. And God willing they will be released very soon,” he told me.
I spoke to the president after he landed in New York to attend a meeting at the U.N General Assembly. Just last week Ahmadinejad announced that the two Americans would be released on $1,000,000 bail. When that was delayed there was hope they would be free today. But as we reported on “GMA” the Iranian judges played politics - apparently not wanting to give their rival a victory one judge was not in court and therefore did not sign the release.
Here’s my exchange with the president:
Stephanopoulos: Yet we– it seems that there seems to be from the outside a power struggle inside Iran. The members of the judiciary are determined to embarrass you and prevent the release of those hikers while you’re here in the United States.
Ahmadinejad: Is it their release which is important for you? Or what’s going on in Iran? There is no problem. There is a judicial process that has to be completed and hopefully it will be, God willing.
Stephanopoulos: Guaranteed they will come to the United States?
Ahmadinejad: Do I have to guarantee?
Stephanopoulos: … I think a lot of Americans would like that guarantee.
Ahmadinejad: Yes, whatever we say…
Stephanopoulos: Can you not guarantee?
Ahmadinejad: Yes, we act upon whatever we say. And if we don’t want to act, we won’t say it. We didn’t make this decision under pressure. It’s a humanitarian decision. Although, a lot of people are in jail or in prison in American prisons, inside the United States, in Europe, on ships unfortunately there are a lot of people without having had the opportunity of a fair trial. And there are some Iranians who are imprisoned in the United States and did not have the opportunity of a full judicial review. But when we said we will release them, we will release them, as a humanitarian gesture.
- How he responds to Sec. Chu accusing Iran of “denial, deceit and evasion” over its nuclear program.
- Does he support the Palestinian’s plans to seek recognition before the U.N. Security Council?
- And does he think that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s hold on power is secure?