Iran May Swap Detained Berkeley Hikers For U.S.-Held Iranian Prisoners

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 04, 2010 - 08:28:00 AM

Reuters reported Tuesday that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told state television that the three UC Berkeley graduates detained in Iran on espionage charges may be exchanged for Iranians jailed in the United States.  

“We do not like to have any person in jail. Some discussions are going on to swap the three with jailed Iranians in America,” Ahmadinejad said during an interview, Reuters said.  

He did not clarify whether the talks had been with U.S. officials.  

Americans Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 31, and Josh Fattal, 27, were hiking in Kurdish Iraq in July 2009 when they strayed across the Iranian border and were arrested.  

Their families maintain that the transgression was an accident, but Iranian government officials charged them in November with spying.  

The three are expected to be put on trial, but no dates have been announced yet.  

Their arrest has further strained tensions between the United States and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear plans. The two countries have not had a diplomatic relationship since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.