Iran mentions 11 held in US when discussing detained Americans
TEHRAN - Three Americans arrested in July after crossing into Iran from neighboring Iraq are still under investigation, a prosecutor said yesterday, adding that Tehran is concerned about 11 Iranians it says are being held in the United States.
The Tehran prosecutor did not link the two issues, but officials have increasingly mentioned their campaign for the Iranians when speaking about the detained Americans. US officials have been concerned that Iran would try to use the Americans as bargaining chips in its dealings with the West.
“The Americans should know that there are 11 Iranian nationals in US prisons. We hope the Americans are treating them based on regulations,’’ Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi said, according to the IRNA news agency.
Iran released a list earlier this month of 11 Iranians it says are being held in the United States, including a nuclear scientist who disappeared in Saudi Arabia and a former Defense Ministry official who vanished in Turkey.
The prosecutor did not go into details about the case of the three Americans, whose families say they were trekking in northern Iraq’s Kurdish region and accidentally strayed over the unmarked border with Iran.
“We sense that in the Iranian government there is some kind of equivalency that they offer with regard to the hikers and Iranian citizens who have left Iran. There really is no equivalence at all,’’ said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.