Ahmadinejad Reveals That Three Americans Are Hostages in Iran
Commentary – Six months after the arrest of three Americans, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced in a television interview on Tuesday that Iran may be prepared to swap the three Americans with Iranians whom he says have been arrested by Americans in other countries. In an interview with Iranian state television, Ahmadinejad said: “There are many Iranians in American prisons. They were kidnapped by the US in other countries or the US has put pressure on other countries for their arrest.” The Iranian authorities announced trials of the three individuals in recent weeks. Ahmadinejad’s new statements reveal that the Iranian government is trying to use the three individuals as a tool for applying pressure on US government to free unnamed individuals.
Considering the independence of branches within Iranian government, and as the three individuals are in custody of the Iranian Judiciary, Ahmadinejad’s statements show that the Iranian Judiciary is tarnished with politics. If the three individuals have committed any crimes, they must be tried in fair and unbiased courts based on international standards and their attorneys must be able to defend them in court. Otherwise, if the Iranian governments uses the excuse of the US government’s kidnapping Iranian citizens as justification for taking the three Americans as hostages, this will only serve as testimony to the Iranian Judiciary’s interrelationship with politics and how some individuals easily fall victim to political decisions, having to spend months and years in prison. The alarming point in Ahmadinejad’s statements is that as the Head of State, he should be a pirate, taking hostages and stating demands in return for the hostages’ release. The United States’ violations of human rights, or arrests of Iranian citizens in other countries do not empower Iran to violate human rights.
Ahmadinejad’s statements are unacceptable because their premise is that in place of abiding by standards and values of the case, Iran is following the US as its role model, deciding to act as it claims the US does. In fact, with such statements, Ahmadinejad reveals his lack of honesty in his criticism of violations of human rights in western countries, including the US. If Ahmadinejad’s allegations about the United States’ mistreatment of Iranian citizens are true, it hardly provides a basis for the Iranian government to use innocent US citizens who have entered Iranian soil by mistake as hostages.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has started his second term with the murders of tens of legal protesters and the arrest of thousands of protesters and his opposition, clearly shows through his statements that the Iranian government is willing to sacrifice the most basic international principles and values in order to achieve its own political purposes and interests. As the highest ranking official of the country and through interference in a judicial case in the most unusual way, Ahmadinejad is speaking of taking the three Americans as hostages.
Over the past few days, families of the three imprisoned US citizens have repeatedly asked the Iranian government to refrain from turning these arrests into a political issue between Iran and US. They are concerned that a simple matter which could have been easily settled in an un-politicized environment, is now turning into an opportunity for Iranian government to settle its old accounts and grievances in its relations with US.
Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Joshua Fattal were arrested on 31 July 2009 as they were hiking in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, passing into Iranian soil. Since their arrest, their families have not been able to have even one telephone conversation with them. Their attorney, Massoud Shafiee, who has received a written permission from Tehran Prosecutor to meet with his clients, has faced closed doors each time he has attempted to meet with authorities in charge of their files and has had no success in this area.