Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

'New York Post' slammed for publishing ISIS execution images

Read more

DEBATE

Back to Square One?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza: Back to Square One?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza conflict: 72-hour ceasefire deal sets stage for Cairo talks

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users divided over Darren Wilson

Read more

FOCUS

Spain's El Hierro to become world's first self-powered island

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bellwether for what not to do

Read more

ENCORE!

Luc Besson back in action with Scarlett Johansson in 'Lucy'

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

  • US forces tried to rescue slain reporter from IS captors

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • US attorney general visits Missouri town after fatal shooting

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Brazil’s Silva launches bid after Campos plane crash death

    Read more

  • Netanyahu compares Hamas to IS, Gaza offensive to continue

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • France’s ex-PM Juppé sets up presidential clash with Sarkozy

    Read more

  • France’s Hollande says global security ‘worst since 2001’

    Read more

  • France urges Iran, others in region, to join fight against IS

    Read more

  • A new view on Normandy landings, 70 years on

    Read more

  • Dozens killed as landslides strike Japan’s Hiroshima

    Read more

  • Suspected Ebola cases in Austria, new drug raises hopes

    Read more

  • WWII anniversary highlights best - and worst - of Paris police

    Read more

  • Headscarf at the beach sparks French MEP’s fury

    Read more

Asia-pacific

US hikers to be freed on bail, Ahmadinejad says

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-09-13

Two US citizens sentenced by a Tehran court to eight years in prison for espionage will be freed on bail in two days, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told US television network NBC. The men's lawyer says bail has been set at $500,000 each.

AFP - President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said in interviews Tuesday that Iran would release two US hikers jailed for spying in a couple of days on bail which their lawyer said had been set at $500,000 each.

"I am helping to arrange for their release in a couple of days so they will be able to return home. This is of course going to be a unilateral humanitarian gesture," Ahmadinejad told The Washington Post.

"It is a unilateral pardon" of the hikers, he added.

In a separate interview with US network NBC News, Ahmadinejad said Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal would be released "in two days" but their lawyer Masoud Shafii told AFP that they would be freed only when bail had been paid.

The pair, who were detained in 2009, were both sentenced to eight years in jail last month on charges of espionage and illegal entry in a case that has further strained relations between Washington and Tehran.

"The Americans will be freed when the bail is paid," their lawyer told AFP, adding that the judiciary had informed him of its decision in the middle of the day Tuesday and that he had yet to contact their families.

Asked by the Post how the pair would return to the US, Ahmadinejad said that "they are free to choose".

Bauer and Fattal, were arrested near the mountainous Iraq-Iran border in July 31, 2009, along with a third hiker, Sarah Shourd, who was granted bail on humanitarian and medical grounds and allowed to leave the country in September last year.

Her bail too was set at $500,000 and was paid through Oman, a US Gulf ally that maintains relations with Iran.

Shafii announced late last month that he had lodged an appeal against his clients' conviction.

"I believe that my clients are innocent so if the appeals judges look at the case within a legal framework, and show compassion," the pair could be freed, he said at the time.

The trio have consistently maintained that they innocently strayed across the unmarked border with Iran while hiking in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region.

The jailing of Bauer and Fattal sparked anger in Washington which already has deep diferences with Tehran over its controversial nuclear programme, its refusal to recognise Israel and its support for militant groups across the Middle East.

US President Barack Obama regarded the jail terms handed down against the pair as "an abomination," a top White House diplomatic nominee said last week.

"The administration quite agrees with you that this is an abomination, that these hikers do not belong in prison," and that they "ought to be released immediately," Wendy Sherman told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a confirmation hearing to become the State Department's number three.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "believes that we must take every opportunity we can to push this, to work with the Swiss protecting authority, which represents us in Iran, to try to get consular access to them, to push for their release," said Sherman.

Washington and Tehran have had no diplomatic relations since the aftermath of the Islamic revolution of 1979 when Islamist students seized the US embassy ion Tehran.

Its interests in Iran are looked after by the Swiss embassy.

The Swiss mission said on Tuesday it was not immediately able to confirm the Iranian judicary's decision.

Date created : 2011-09-13

  • IRAN

    Iran sentences US hikers to eight years in jail for spying

    Read more

  • IRAN

    Trial ends for US hikers facing spying charges

    Read more

  • IRAN - US

    US hikers to face fresh court hearing on espionage charges

    Read more

COMMENT(S)