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Other News: Iran to Prosecute American Hikers

December 14, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT
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In other news, Iran will prosecute three Americans who crossed the border from northern Iraq, and Taliban attacks killed at least 16 police throughout Afghanistan.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Iran will prosecute three Americans who crossed the border from northern Iraq. Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal, and Sarah Shourd were seized last July. Later, they were accused of spying. Today, Iran’s foreign minister announced plans for a trial. He didn’t say when. And he didn’t specify the charges.

MANOUCHEHR MOTTAKI: Interrogation of the three American citizens who had illegally entered Iran with suspicious aims is ongoing. And they will be tried by Iran’s judiciary system, and judiciary verdicts regarding their case will be issued.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Relatives of the Americans and the U.S. government have insisted the three were innocent hikers who strayed across the border.

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanded their immediate release.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: We consider this a totally unfounded charge. There is no basis for it. The three young people who were detained by the Iranians have absolutely no connection with any kind of action against the Iranian state or government.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Iran’s announcement today came as the standoff over its nuclear program intensifies. The U.S. and other countries are talking of imposing new sanctions.

In Afghanistan, Taliban attacks killed at least 16 police across the country. The insurgents hit two checkpoints, one in the north and one in the south, at approximately the same time. The violence came as Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs, was in Kabul, meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Mullen warned the insurgent network is expanding.

ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN: I remain deeply concerned about the growing level of collusion between the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida and other extremist groups taking refuge across the border in Pakistan. Getting at this network, which is now more entrenched, will be a far more difficult task than it was just one year ago

HARI SREENIVASAN: Also today, the second-ranking U.S. commander in Afghanistan Lieutenant General David Rodriguez, said deploying 30,000 more U.S. troops could take 11 months. The Obama administration originally said they would be in place within six months.

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi remains hospitalized in Milan, after being attacked on Sunday. He was hit in the face with a statuette as he signed autographs at a political rally. He suffered a fractured nose and two broken teeth. Police identified the attacker as Massimo Tartaglia, a man with a history of mental problems.

World stock markets rose today, after the Persian Gulf sheikdom of Abu Dhabi bailed out Dubai, its cash-strapped sister state. Dubai will get $10 billion in emergency funds to save its state-owned conglomerate, Dubai World, from default.

And, on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 29 points, to close at 10,501. The Nasdaq rose 21 points, to close at 2,212.

Those are some of the day’s main stories. I will be back at the end of the program with a preview of what you will find tonight on the NewsHour’s Web site, but, for now, back to Jim.