London: Amnesty International on Friday called
on Iranian authorities to release three young US nationals who
have been detained without charge or trial for the past 12
Iranian forces arrested Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd,
31, and Josh Fattal, 27, on July 31, 2009, near the
Iraqi-Iranian border during what the trio say was a hiking
holiday in the Kurdish mountains of northern Iraq.
"It appears clear that the Iranian authorities do not
have substantial grounds to prosecute these three
individuals," Malcolm Smart, Middle East director of the
London-based Amnesty International, said in a statement.
"We fear that they may be held on account of their
nationality," he said. "If so, they should be released
immediately and allowed to leave Iran."
Amnesty said that otherwise the three young Americans
should be "charged with recognisably criminal offences and be
tried according to international standards for a fair trial."
Iranian officials have alleged that the three planned to
carry out "acts of espionage" in the Islamic republic,
prompting denials from the US government and their families.
"Statements by senior Iranian leaders... have suggested
that the three may be being detained in order to put pressure
on the US government and to extract diplomatic concessions,"
"If this were the case, then the continuing detention of
these three individuals would amount to hostage-taking and be
a very serious abuse of human rights," said Smart.
Amnesty referred to speculation that the Iranian
authorities were holding the trio "as a bargaining chip."
"The detainees must be given immediate access to their
lawyer, to renewed consular access and contact with their
families, and to any medical attention or treatment that they
need," said Smart.