Ahmadinejad Wants US to Release Iranians in Return of Hiker

Tehran, Sep 18 (DPA) The US should release jailed Iranians in return for the release of American hiker Sarah Shourd, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Friday.

"The release (of Shourd) was one-sided, and we do not expect anything (from the US) in return," Ahmadinejad told Khabar news network in a live interview.

"But the US could still compensate the move by releasing the Iranians in American jails who were arrested for having exported certain articles to Iran."

He was referring to Iranians arrested for having violated international sanctions by exporting to Iran goods that could be potentially used in Iran's military and nuclear programmes.

Ahmadinejad said that the release of Shroud was because "Iran pays a special respect for women and grants them a special status".

The Tehran prosecutor had said that due to Shourd's illness - reportedly a lump in her breast - and her need for specialised medical care, she could leave the country, but only on bail amounting to $500,000, as the charges against her were still valid.

Shroud left Tehran Tuesday, flying to the Gulf emirate of Oman, where she met her mother and underwent medical tests.

Iranian authorities arrested Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal in July 2009 when they allegedly crossed an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region.

Iranian intelligence accused the three of spying, but the foreign ministry said that the main charge remained illegal entry, and that the espionage charges were still under investigation.

According to the prosecutor, the three have not confessed to espionage, but security authorities had enough evidence to prove the spying charges.

Therefore, the Tehran prosecutor said, Bauer and Fattal would remain in jail, and Shourd would be obliged to attend the trial.




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Title: Ahmadinejad Wants US to Release Iranians in Return of Hiker

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