WASHINGTON — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said there is a “chance” that two U.S. hikers — Minnesota native Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal — may be released after having been imprisoned for more than a year.
One of the three hikers who had been detained in Iran for 410 days, Sarah Shourd, was released on Sept. 14. The other two hikers, Bauer (Shourd’s fiancé) and their friend Fattal, remain imprisoned in Tehran and have been accused of spying.
The trio were arrested during a hike that began in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan, near the Iranian border. U.S. officials maintain that they aren’t spies, have disputed that they crossed the into Iran as that country alleges and said if they did it was inadvertent.
Ahmadinejad’s remarks came in an interview with CNN’s Larry King that will be broadcast tonight at 8 p.m. Central. From CNN‘s preview of that broadcast:
Ahmadinejad denied having direct influence over the case of two American hikers who have been detained in Iran for more than a year without trial.
There is a “chance” Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer could be released but a judge must make the decision, he said.
A third American who was detained with them, Sarah Shourd, was released last week.
Ahmadinejad said her release was “because of mercy, compassion and as a humanitarian gesture.”
He said he had “suggested” it but that he had “no influence” over the legal process.
In a Sunday news conference, Shourd called for Bauer and Fattal’s release.
“Getting on the plane in Tehran was one of the most memorable and important moments of my life,” she said. “But this is not the time to celebrate.”
“My disappointment at not sharing that moment with Shane and Josh was crushing. And I stand before you today only one third free. That was the last thing that Josh said to me before I walked through the prison doors. Josh and Shane felt one third free at that moment and so did I.”