White House urges Iran to release detained American hikers

April 24th, 2010 - 5:30 am ICT by BNO News  

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — The White House on Friday urged Iranian authorities to release three American hikers who were detained nearly nine months ago when they strayed into the country while hiking in Iraq.

“The United States remains deeply concerned by the case of three American hikers, Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal, and Sarah Shourd, who have been detained in Iran without charge or access to legal representation since July 2009,” said Robert Gibbs, the White House Press Secretary. He said they welcome the decision by Iranian authorities to allow the Americans to receive another Swiss consular.

However, Gibbs said, the White House was ‘deeply alarmed’ to learn from families of their physical and emotional state of health. “We fear their well-being will suffer even more unless their case is resolved without delay,” Gibbs said. “We strongly believe these urgent developments are additional reasons for the government of Iran to release them immediately.”

Gibbs said the three Americans are innocent and are being held without formal charges or access to legal representation as stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. “There is absolutely no justification for their detention, and they should be released without further delay,” Gibbs said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also said she was ‘disturbed’ to hear families’ reports of their children’s physical and emotional health. “These three Americans — innocent tourists in Iraq’s Kurdistan region when they were detained on July 31, 2009 — have been unjustly held for almost nine months without formal charges or access to legal representation,” Clinton said. “We ask the Islamic Republic of Iran to release these three Americans and allow them to go home and be reunited with their families.”

The White House also urged Iranian authorities to resolve the cases of all missing and detained American citizens in Iran, including Robert Levinson who went missing while visiting Iran’s Kish Island in March 2007. He is a former FBI agent.

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