Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the three American hikers
imprisoned in Iran broke the law by crossing the Iranian border and
need to be punished.
In an interview in Tehran with NBC, a U.S.
television network, Mr. Ahmadinejad said he sympathizes with the
families of the three hikers.
But he said he would only consider releasing the hikers if Iranians held in U.S. prisons are also freed.
was not exactly clear which Iranians he was referring to. Five Iranian
officials detained for more than two years at a U.S. prison in Iraq
were released two months ago as part of a U.S.-Iraq security deal.
Thursday, the mothers of the three hikers - Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd
and Josh Fattal - appealed to Mr. Ahmadinejad to bring their children
with him when he arrives next week in New York to address the U.N.
The three Americans went missing on July 31
after setting out on a hike from Iraq's northern Kurdish region, and
apparently strayed across the poorly marked border into Iran.
television has described the three Americans as spies who illegally
entered the country and disregarded warnings from border guards.
Thursday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Iranian
authorities failed again to grant the Swiss consular access to the
The United States does not have diplomatic
ties with Iran and has worked through the Swiss ambassador in Tehran to
obtain information about the detainees.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.