U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has again called on the Iranian government to release 3 American citizens detained in Iran since July 2009, and to disclose what it knows about an American business man who disappeared in Iran more than 3 years ago:
"Iran continues to hold 3 young Americans against their will. And we reiterate our request that they be released and allowed to return to their families on a humanitarian basis. And we also continue to have no information on the welfare and whereabouts of Robert Levinson, who has been missing in Iran since 2007. We continue to request Iranian cooperation in resolving this matter and in ensuring his safe return to the United States."
The 3 young Americans, Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, were hiking along the Iran-Iraq border last July 31st when they were detained by Iranian authorities. They have been held in Evin prison without charge ever since. U.S. State Department Acting Spokesman Mark Toner said recently that the hikers have been "unjustly detained;" he also called on Iran to release them immediately.
American businessman Robert Levinson disappeared on the Iranian island of Kish in March 2007 during a private business trip. While Iranian authorities promised to share information about their investigation into his disappearance, that promise was never fulfilled.
When Secretary of State Clinton repeated her request for the Iranian government to release the 3 American hikers and to disclose what it knows about the whereabouts of Mr. Levinson, she noted that the plight of the Americans detained in Iran contrasts with the case of Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri, who recently sought to return to Iran after several months in the United States. "Mr. Amiri has been in the United States of his own free will. And he is free to go," said Secretary of State Clinton. "These decisions are his alone to make."
Mr. Amiri returned to Iran on July 15th. The 3 American hikers remain in Evin prison.