Is Iran Using Boulder Hikers as Bargaining Chips?

December 14 2009, 11:53 AM

800px-Manouchehr_MottakiBoulder's Shannon Bauer, whose brother, Shane Bauer, is among the three Americans being held in Iran on charges of espionage, recently pleaded on her Huffington Post blog that Iranian officials show compassion. Americans Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 31, and Josh Fattal, 27, were arrested by Iranian officials after crossing an unmarked border from northern Iraq in July, but their relatives say they are not spies. Speaking of the case in a press conference last month, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pointed back to the U.S., which is trying Iranians, including Amir Hossein Ardebili, who faces up to 140 years in prison after pleading guilty to plotting to ship sensitive U.S. military technology to Iran (via The Associated Press). Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki (left) has not said when proceedings would begin or specify the charges, but he has claimed the three Americans "entered Iran with suspicious aims" and "the judiciary will try them," adding that "relevant sentences" would be handed down (via Reuters). The announcement follows tensions between Iran and the United States over Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment, according to many outlets, including CBS News, which notes the possibility that the three Americans are being used as bargaining chips.