Iran’s Foreign Minister Hints at Prisoner Swap for 2 Hikers
Posted on Sep 17, 2011
After speculation that Iran might allow two imprisoned American hikers to return home in exchange for a steep bail, Iran’s foreign minister hinted Saturday that the timetable for their release could depend on the willingness of the U.S. to release Iranian prisoners.
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iranian courts are willing to commute the eight-year prison sentences for Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal “in the near future” as a gesture of Islamic mercy, but he did not elaborate on exactly when. Salehi said he hoped Iranian families would “hear good news,” but he did not mention the names of any American-held Iranian prisoners. —BF
Salehi said at a news conference that Iran’s judiciary was ready to commute the sentences as a gesture of Islamic mercy. But he did not give any clearer indication of when they could be released.
“The judiciary’s decision is to commute (the Americans’) punishment,” the foreign minister said. “We expect the judiciary to make its decision in the near future.”
“We hope this issue will be finalized so that both families of Iranians who are waiting (for inmates in U.S. prisons) as well as the families of these U.S. nationals will, God willing, hear good news,” Salehi said.
He did not specifically mention any Iranian detainee, although officials in Tehran have often complained about alleged mistreatment of Iranians in American custody.
American hikers, from left, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal at the Esteghlal Hotel in Tehran in May of last year. Shourd was released on bail a few months later.