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Clinton renews call to free US detainees

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has renewed appeals for the release of two US citizens arrested for illegally entering Iran.

Clinton called on Iranian authorities on Tuesday to free Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, saying, “We continue to express our hope that the Iranian authorities will exercise the humanitarian option of releasing these two young men.”

The chief US diplomat made the remarks after she has been told that the pair will go on trial in early November.

Bauer’s mother, Cindy Hickey, said a Tehran-based lawyer representing the detainees’ families told them her son and Fattal would stand trial November 6.

Bauer and Fattal, both 27, along with Sara Shourd, 31, were arrested on Iranian territory in July 2009 after illegally crossing the border from the mountains of northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

They were later charged with espionage after Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi found “compelling evidence” that the three US citizens had actually been cooperating with US intelligence agencies.

Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi said earlier in October that “There are documents and evidences about these American detainees, which have been handed over to the judicial system in order to decide.”

Moslehi pointed to the release of the female US detainee and explained, “Ms. Shourd was released due to Islamic clemency, illness and on bail, and should return to Iran if necessary.”

Iranian Judiciary accepted Shourd’s defense lawyer’s suggestion that she be released on bail. She was released on September 14 on a bail of $500,000, more than 14 months after her arrest.

The US has detained several Iranian nationals on charges of violating the US-imposed sanctions against Iran.

Contrary to the harsh treatment of Iranians in US custody, the three detained US citizens have been treated well, despite the fact that they are facing very serious charges.

Iran allowed their mothers to travel to Iran and visit their children, a decision that Iran said was made due to humanitarian concerns and in accordance with the tenets of Islam.

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