A deliberate provocation, designed to test our mettle. Time for the President to call for negotiations again! “Iran to try 3 Americans who crossed Iraqi border,” by Nasser Karimi for Associated Press, December 14 (thanks to all who sent this in):
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran said Monday it would try three Americans jailed since crossing the border from Iraq in July, a step certain to aggravate the U.S. at a time when Tehran is locked in a standoff with the West over its nuclear program.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki did not say when proceedings would begin or specify the charge other than to say the Americans had “suspicious aims.” In November, however, authorities accused the Americans of spying.
In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the Iranian move was “totally unfounded” and appealed anew to authorities in Iran to release them.
“We consider this a totally unfounded charge,” she told reporters. “There is no basis for it. The three young people who were detained by the Iranians have absolutely no connection with any kind of action against the Iranian state or government.”
“In fact, they were out hiking and unfortunately, apparently, allegedly, walked across an unmarked boundary,” she said. “We appeal to the Iranian leadership to release these three young people and free them as soon as possible.”
There are concerns in the U.S. that Iran could use the three, arrested July 31, as bargaining chips in talks over its nuclear program or in seeking the return of Iranians they say are missing.
“They will be tried by Iran’s judiciary system and verdicts will be issued,” Mottaki said at a news conference, without elaborating. He said the three were still being interrogated….
In November, Tehran chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi said the three “have been accused of espionage.” But it was not clear from his brief comments whether formal charges had been filed against the Americans….