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Iran confirmed the arrest of three American hikers




Iran confirmed Tuesday the arrest of three American hikers who crossed into the country from neighboring Iraq and said they have been charged with "illegal entry," a semi-official news agency reported.

The three were arrested in the western Iranian city of Marivan, Iraj Hassanzadeh, deputy governor of Kurdistan province, told the Fars News Agency.

Earlier, Swiss diplomats in Iran and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had 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."

The three American friends -- seasoned travelers who are former students at the University of California, Berkeley -- had been hiking along with a fourth companion through parts of Iraq's Kurdistan region last week.

On Friday, the three apparently crossed the unmarked border with Iran and were detained. The fourth companion had stayed behind at a hotel in Sulaimaniya, Iraq.

Peshrow Ahmed, spokesman for the security manager of Sulaimaniya, said the three had been in contact with their companion until about 1:30 p.m. Friday when they reported they were "surrounded by Iranian soldiers." No further communication was received.



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