Iran's 'Charm Offensive'
13 Sep 2011 20:47
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Sept. 14 update
A spokesman for Iran's judiciary said that the two American hikers have not been released, and that the request of their attorney, Masoud Shafiei, to set bail is under review. Yesterday Shafiei had said that the request had already been accepted and set at about $450,000 each. It appears that the new statement has to do with the internal power struggle in Iran that has pitted the hardliners around Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, including the judiciary, against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his supporters. He is to travel to New york soon, and the release of the two Americans would be great publicity for him.
Earlier this morning, the AP reported that an Omani official said they had sent a plane amid efforts to release the two men.
The AP's Vienna bureau chief, George Jahn, is reporting that Tehran has made an offer to meet with world powers without its usual preconditions. Citing a copy of a confidential letter from a senior Iranian official, it suggests that the Iranians "may even be ready to touch on some nuclear issues that were previously taboo."
As our columnist Muhammad Sahimi tells us, Masoud Shafiei, the attorney for Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, told IRNA, Iran's official news agency, that Branch 36 of the Revolutionary Court has converted the order for the American hikers' detention to $450,000 bail. He added that he had let the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which represents U.S. interests in Iran, and the families of the two know about the latest development and that while they have not yet been released, it does appear to be imminent.
Earlier, via Foreign Policy Morning Brief:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in an interview with the Washington Post, said that that he would issue a pardon for Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, two Americans imprisoned in Iran on charges of espionage.
Ahmadinejad said that he would grant the release of the Americans in "a couple of days." His decision, however, could be overturned by the clerics gathered around Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
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