Clinton: U.S. remains hopeful Iran will release hikers
Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept. 16 /Trend T.Konyayeva/
The United States remains hopeful that Iran will release two U.S. hikers and is not unduly concerned by Tehran's delay in carrying out a pledge to free them earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday, Reuters reported.
"We continue to hope that the two young Americans will be released as part of a humanitarian gesture by the Iranian government," Clinton said at a news conference in San Francisco, where she was on an official visit.
Clinton said the United States had noted previous delays between official Iranian announcements and their eventual execution and had been assured by a number of sources both publicly and privately that the two men would be freed.
"I'm going to count on the Iranian government fulfilling the announcement that was made by the leadership of the country and hope that it can be expedited and we can see their release very soon," she said.
Iran's Revolutionary Court has agreed Tuesday to release two U.S. citizens under $500,000 bail for each.
Their lawyer Massoud Shafee confirmed that he received the Court's decision and submitted it to the Swiss Embassy and to their parents. "After the bail is posted, the U.S. citizens will be released," he added.
Early Tuesday, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in an interview with NBC News that two American nationals will be freed this week.
Later, Iran's Judiciary had refuted media reports on their release.
On Thursday, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani held talks with the Iranian top officials on the release of two Americans accused of espionage and illegal border crossing, Talabani's representative in Iran Nasim Dabah said.
The Iranian side has agreed to hand over two American citizens to the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which represents U.S. interests in Iran, by late this week, he added.
Joshua Fattal, along with Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd, were arrested in the western Iranian district of Marivan, at the Malakh-Khur border point, in 2009, while they were hiking near Iran's border with Iraq. They were charged with illegally crossing the border and espionage.
Shourd was released in September, 2010 on health grounds after posting 500,000 dollars in bail, and returned to the United States.