Iran confirmed Tuesday the arrest of three American hikers who crossed Iran’s border with Iraq on Friday. They were arrested for “illegal entry.” “These three people whose identity is not known yet were arrested on the Malakh-Khor border near the town of Marivan,” Iraj Hassanzadeh, deputy governor of Iran's Kurdistan province, said.
“Anyone who seeks to illegally enter the country from the Kurdistan border will be arrested,” he added.
Western media sources have identified the missing as Shane Bauer, Sara Shourd and Joshua Fattal, former students at the University of California, Berkeley.
On Friday, the three—all in their mid-20s—reportedly crossed an unmarked border between Iraq and Iranian Kurdish areas. “While BBC said they were mountain hikers, some Web sites say they were journalists,” Khabar TV, the main state news channel, reported. “Since occupation of Iraq by the U.S.-led forces, American journalists in Iraq have traveled to neighboring countries illegally.”
Hassanzadeh told Fars news agency Tuesday that the three were arrested “four days ago and are being interrogated.” According to Hassanzadeh, the detainees had Syrian and Iraqi visas but “have made no confessions yet.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has since urged Iran to provide information on the hikers. “Obviously, we are concerned,” Clinton said. “We want this matter brought to a resolution as soon as possible, and we call on the Iranian government to help us determine the whereabouts of the three missing Americans and return them as quickly as possible.”