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US hikers were roaming military zone

Iran’s President says the three US hikers currently in police custody were caught roaming around a “sensitive military zone” at the time of their arrest.

“The Americans have kidnapped more than 10 of our citizens in other countries even though they had visas and took them (to the United States) and say nothing,” said Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an exclusive interview with AFP.

But three Americans entered illegally into our territory and were arrested in a sensitive military zone and they make a noise round the world to say the Americans are very important, he added.

Shane Michael Bauer, Joshua Felix Fattal, and Sarah Emily Shourd were arrested on July 31 after straying across the border from Iraq’s Kurdistan region. They were later charged with espionage by Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Monday that the trio, who are currently held at Tehran’s Evin prison, will stand trial.

The families of the trio maintain that their illegal entry into Iran was an “innocent mistake.” “They are good people, they did not mean to enter Iran and have deep respect for your ancient and noble civilization…. If they entered Iran it was an innocent mistake,” said Shourd’s mother, Norah, in a video directed at the Iranian government.

Ahmadinejad said the Justice system in Iran is independent and is responsible for deciding on their fate. “Those who break the law will have to answer for it. Justice is independent in Iran and will decide,” he said.

He also called attention to the 3.5 million Americans in jail in the United States; “I hope they will be allowed out to be with their families during Christmas.”

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