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Obama calls for release of US detainees

US President Barack Obama has called on the Iranian authorities to “immediately release” three US citizens currently held in Iran on suspicion of spying, saying they never worked for the US government.

Ahead of the one-year anniversary of the hikers’ arrest on Saturday, Obama said the three committed no crime and were simply adventurous young people.

On Friday, the US Senate introduced a resolution marking one year since the hikers were detained and calling on Iran to “immediately and unconditionally release” them on humanitarian grounds, AFP reported.

Sarah Emily Shourd, 31, and Shane Michael Bauer and Joshua Felix Fattal, both 27, were arrested in Iranian territory after crossing the border from the Kurdish mountains of northern Iraq in July 2009.

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.

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.

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.

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