As Iran confirms the detention of three Americans for illegally crossing its border with Iraq, the United States calls for their immediate release.
“We have sent strong messages that we would like these three young people released as soon as possible, and also others that they have in their custody as well,” said US National Security Adviser Jim Jones, without elaborating on ‘others in Iranian custody’.
“These are innocent people,” he told American NBC news on Sunday. “We want their families reunited, and we would like to have it done as quickly as possible.”
Iran’s security officials have confirmed the arrest of three Americans on the Malakh-Khur border area in the western city of Marivan on July 31, charging the trio with ‘illegal entry’.
Iraj Hassanzadeh, Kurdistan Province’s deputy governor for political and security affairs, also announced that the three, identified as Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd, were traveling with Syrian and Iraqi visas.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appealed to Iran for information on the three detained American nationals to help determine their whereabouts.
She said that Washington had asked the Swiss ambassador to help determine the status of the three.
Switzerland represents US interests in Iran since Tehran and Washington do not have diplomatic relations since shortly after the 1978 victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
Reports indicate that since the detention of the three Americans, the US Interests Section at the Swiss Embassy in Tehran has been trying to arrange a meeting with them.