AFP: US President Barack Obama views Iran’s eight-year jail sentence against two US hikers for espionage and illegal entry as “an abomination,” a top White House diplomatic nominee said Wednesday.
WASHINGTON, September 7, 2011 (AFP) – US President Barack Obama views Iran’s eight-year jail sentence against two US hikers for espionage and illegal entry as “an abomination,” a top White House diplomatic nominee said Wednesday.
“The administration quite agrees with you that this is an abomination, that these hikers do not belong in prison,” and that they “ought to be released immediately,” Wendy Sherman told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Sherman, whose nomination to be the US State Department’s number-three official must win Senate confirmation, had been asked by Democratic Senator Bob Casey about the fate of the hikers.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “believes that we must take every opportunity we can to push this, to work with the Swiss protecting authority, which represents us in Iran, to try to get consular access to them, to push for their release,” said Sherman.
“And if confirmed, I will do everything I possibly can, using every relationship we have with Iran, through third countries if not directly, to get their release,” she said.
The two hikers, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, were sentenced to eight years in jail each on charges of espionage and illegal entry, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said in August.
Bauer and Fattal were arrested on July 31, 2009 along with Bauer’s fiancee, Sarah Shourd, who was freed on bail of around 500,000 dollars and returned to the United States in September on humanitarian and medical grounds.
The trio were arrested on the unmarked border between Iran and Iraq, claiming they were hiking in Iraq’s northern province of Kurdistan when they innocently strayed into the Islamic republic.