Iran Says 3 Americans Should Stand Trial

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran reiterated on Sunday that three Americans jailed a year ago should stand trial on charges of illegally crossing the country's borders. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Iran is also considering other possible charges against Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal including intentionally acting against Iranian security, according to a state media report. There has been no indication from Iran so far that formal charges against the three have been filed. The Americans' families and the U.S. government say the three are innocent and accidentally crossed Iran's border while hiking in northern Iraq. "The three American citizens have been detained for illegal entry to Iranian territory," Mehmanparast said, according to the website of the state broadcasting company. "So the violation of law is obvious and they should be answerable before the law like any other individual." Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has in the past proposed swapping the three for Iranians he says are jailed in the U.S., raising fears that the Americans are being held as bargaining chips. But in his latest remarks, Mehmanparast denied their case was related to Iranians allegedly held in the U.S. Iran claims 11 of its citizens are held in U.S. jails. "Their case is merely a judicial issue," said Mehmanparast in response to protests in several cities around the world over the weekend to demand the release of the three. Mehmanparast said the three American prisoners, whom Iran has alleged in the past were spies for the United States, have been offered support from the Swiss embassy. The U.S. broke off ties with Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and Switzerland handles U.S. interests in Iran. Shourd, Bauer and Fattal met as students at the University of California at Berkeley. Last summer, Bauer, 28, a freelance journalist, and Shourd, 31, an English teacher, were living in Damascus, Syria. Bauer had just finished a magazine assignment.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100801/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iran_us_hikers