US nags for limited access to 3 Iran intruders
The US State Department has accused Tehran of restricting the Swiss Embassy access to the three Americans held in Iran for illegally entering the country, Press TV reported.
Iran's refusal to allow Swiss diplomats to visit the "hikers" in Tehran's Evin Prison since the end of October is "outrageous" and a violation of international agreements, Department of State (DOS) Spokesman Phillip J. Crowley said on Tuesday.
Iranian observers have scoffed at the notion that the three Americans are actually hikers, as advertised by American officials and mainstream media. They argue that 'hiking' in such a highly sensitive region, given the continued military occupation of Iraq by US forces and the tense US-Iranian relations, does not serve as a good cover for whatever the trio were up to.
Crowley added that the DOS was deeply concerned about the welfare of the three Americans detained in Iran, claiming they may be held in "deplorable conditions."
As Iran and the US do not have diplomatic relations, Switzerland's mission represents US interests in the country.
The US DOS spokesman added that Washington would continue pressing for access to the trio.
The three, Shane Michael Bauer, 27, Joshua Felix Fattal, 27, and Sarah Emily Shourd, 31, were arrested by Iranian guards late July last year after they ventured over Iran's borders from Iraq's Kurdistan region.
They were later charged with espionage by the Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi. A court verdict is expected to be issued soon for one of the three.
Commenting on their case, a senior Iranian lawmaker recently said that the US should not "rush" for the release of the three Americans detained in Iran.
"The US violated the Vienna Convention and international regulations by arresting Iranian diplomats and keeping them in prison for a long time," said Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the Chairman of the Parliamentary (Majlis) Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy.
Boroujerdi was referring to five Iranian diplomats, who were abducted from Iran's consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil by US forces in January 2007.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has also made a similar comparison saying that while the US has kidnapped more than 10 Iranian citizens in other countries, even though they had visas, it wants the three Americans arrested in a "sensitive military zone" to be released.
Iranian officials have so far allowed two visits between Swiss diplomats and the three American detainees.