Iran says will not swap U.S. detainees for scientist

TEHRAN Tue Jun 8, 2010 11:38am EDT

Shane Bauer (2nd L), Sarah Shourd (3rd L) and Josh Fattal (2nd R) sit with their mothers during a news conference in Tehran May 20, 2010. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

Shane Bauer (2nd L), Sarah Shourd (3rd L) and Josh Fattal (2nd R) sit with their mothers during a news conference in Tehran May 20, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Raheb Homavandi

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TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran will not propose to Washington the release of three U.S. detainees in return for an Iranian nuclear scientist it says was kidnapped by the CIA, the foreign minister's spokesman said on Tuesday.

In the latest twist in the disappearance one year ago of scientist Shahram Amiri, Iranian television broadcast a video on Monday of a man who said he was Amiri and had been drugged, abducted and tortured by U.S. intelligence.

Amiri, a university researcher working for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, disappeared during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. In March, ABC News said he had defected and was helping the CIA. U.S. intelligence has declined to comment.

At a news conference on Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was asked if Iran would consider a prisoner swap -- requesting Amiri's release in exchange for three Americans arrested near the Iraq border last July.

"We do not think it is the right thing to discuss swapping Shahram Amiri for three Americans who illegally entered Iranian territory," Mehmanparast said.

Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 31, and Josh Fattal, 27, say they strayed over the border while hiking in the mountains of northern Iraq.

Iran's intelligence minister has said he has no doubt they are spies and hinted they could be released in exchange for Iranians held in the United States.

But Mehmanparast said there could be no straight swap in this case. "Shahram Amiri is an innocent Iranian citizen who has been abducted and, inhumanely, is behind bars," he said.

"Unlike the three Americans who have access to the Swiss consulate and to whom the best conditions have been provided, he doesn't have access to a consulate, and from our point of view it is a kidnapping."

Iran has no diplomatic relations with its foe the United States and U.S. interests in Tehran are handled by the Swiss embassy. Washington hopes the U.N. Security Council will approve a new set of sanctions on Iran in the coming days over its nuclear program.

The mothers of the three U.S. detainees visited their children in May. They said they were being treated well but had had no access to a lawyer and had not been told what would happen to them.

The video broadcast in Iran on Monday showed a man who resembled Amiri speaking into camera, wearing headphones. The video was made on April 5 in Arizona, the man says. There was no explanation of how it was possible to make the video or how it was conveyed to the Iranian broadcaster.

(Reporting by Ramin Mostafavi; Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (11)
jack115 wrote:
My heart goes for the detainees’ family, but it is their fault for hiking there. I still have doubt about whether they really entered Iran, or Iran captured them illegally. However, it does not make sense for swap them for the nuclear scientist. Who in the right mind would do so? The nuclear scientist is way more valuable especially when Iran’s ambition is questionable.

Jun 08, 2010 8:47am EDT  --  Report as abuse
henderson482 wrote:
So America is pushing for more sanctions.

Firstly let me state Im not a fan of the idea that Iran should have nukes, but I do have problems with the way in which America is managing this situation.

1) America leaves Israel without complaint although it is widely believed they have some plus/minus 300 nukes, but insists on sanctions against Iran

2) If hostility is in question, both nations threaten hostile force regularly especially against eachother, so if rhetoric is the reason for the extra precausions, why treat Israel with such a soft touch.

NOW HOW TO FIX THE SITUATION

Treat everyone equally, if Israel has nukes threaten sanctions against them too, if they refuse, remove the $3 BILLION that America awards them each year. America will get no where in this argument whilst it pays for Israel to have nukes and weapons, and then punishes others for the same behaviour.

So in finishing, carry on with the pressure on IRan to be transparent and ensure that their nucleur asparations are purely for energy, BUT how about you act fairly and do the same with Israel aswell, and you never know, alot of Muslim countries would appreciate the fairness and back off from supporting Iran so much against the west.

Jun 08, 2010 10:51am EDT  --  Report as abuse
dr_omid wrote:
iran is a great country and us will not allow united state to put pressure on our beautiful country

Jun 08, 2010 11:12am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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