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Anniversary For Imprisoned Hikers


3 Americans trekking in northern Iraq have been held by the Iranian government since crossing the border into the country.

They have now languished in Iran's notorious Evin prison for a year. It was July 31st, 2009, when Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal –- 3 friends on a hiking trip in northern Iraq -- were arrested by Iranian security forces near the poorly marked border between Iraq and Iran.

Over the course of the year, the 3 young Americans have been denied access to an attorney; permitted only 3 visits by representatives of the Swiss embassy, (the U.S. protecting power in Iran); and allowed to meet for 1 brief visit at Evin prison with their mothers, who pled with Iranian authorities for their release.

The United States has repeatedly called on the Iranian government to release the 3 Americans. In a statement coinciding with the 1 year anniversary of their arrest, President Barack Obama again urged Iran to free them. He said the 3 are innocent of any crime, have never worked for the U.S. government, and have played no role in the issues that divide the U.S. and the international community from the Iranian government. "They are simply open-minded and adventurous young people who represent the best of America, and of the human spirit... They have never had any quarrel with the government of Iran, and have great respect for the Iranian people."

President Obama called the hikers' detention "unjust" and their release "a humanitarian imperative." As a signatory to multiple conventions on human rights, the government of Iran, said Mr. Obama, "should act in line with the principles of justice, and allow Sarah, Shane, and Josh to be reunited with their families."

In a separate statement marking the 1 year anniversary of the Americans' arrest, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "Their release by Iran is long overdue, and their continued detention is unjustifiable... We call on Iran to do the right thing and allow these 3 Americans to return home."

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