Video: Iran to release American hikers “in a couple of days”

posted at 10:05 am on September 13, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

In a surprise move, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has promised to free two Americans seized by Iranian border guards and sentenced to eight years for espionage in “a couple of days … insh’allah (God willing).”  The two hikers and a third who was released before the trial claimed to have inadvertently crossed over the border; Iran believed them to be American spies.  Ann Curry asked the Iranian president about the case, which gave Ahmadinejad an opportunity to announce their imminent release — but he wants something in return:

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Ahmadinejad wants the US to free Iranians held in American prisons as a reciprocal gesture. I’m unaware of any specific cases, and I think we would have heard about a couple of Iranian nationals “hiking” into the US from Canada or Mexico by now. Ahmadinejad might be referring to Iranians captured in Afghanistan or Iraq, perhaps, but again, there hasn’t been a great deal of controversy (in the US, at least) over any particular case.

The State Department put out a statement later cautioning that they had not received any official word on the status of the two Americans, and the “God willing” part of Ahmadinejad’s statement is an opening through which anyone could drive a Mack truck. But as NBC reports in its companion piece, that may be more of Ahmadinejad’s reality than coyness:

After their conviction, Shafiei said that he had lodged an appeal and hoped they might be pardoned. “I hope because of the holy month of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr they might enjoy Islamic clemency,” he told Reuters on Aug. 28. Under Iranian law, espionage can carry the death penalty. Their trial took place behind closed doors and no evidence against the hikers has been made public.

The gap between Salehi’s words and the verdict indicated an increasing rift between Ahmadinejad’s administration and hardline judiciary. It is controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters. The affair has compounded tension between Tehran and Washington, which have had no diplomatic relations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent storming of the U.S. embassy by students.

We’ll soon see if the judiciary is as willing to make a “humanitarian” gesture as Ahmadinejad is in proposing it to American news agencies.

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Don’t release them, I hear they have a plan to hike through North Korea next. Dolts.

Bishop on September 13, 2011 at 10:10 AM

NBC’s Ann Curry to take credit for this in 3…2…1…..

From Newsbusters yesterday, on her fawning profile of this scary dude:

From beginning to end, Curry’s report sounded more like propaganda on Iranian state television rather than a legitimate news story. She sympathetically declared: “A hard-driving schedule is the norm his aides say, claiming he sleeps just three hours a night and that his days often stretch to 2:00 a.m. They say even Iran’s supreme leader has advised him to sleep more.”

Del Dolemonte on September 13, 2011 at 10:11 AM

Ann Curry was subbing for Bill Clinton, who probably wasn’t interested in reprising his North Korean release mission since these two are males.

Drained Brain on September 13, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Who in their right mind would pick the Iraq-Iran border as a good place to get back to nature?

txsurveyor on September 13, 2011 at 10:22 AM

All right AllahPundit, you heard the man.

Give the word…

JohnGalt23 on September 13, 2011 at 10:24 AM

Another summer rerun? I hope this is true this time.

Cindy Munford on September 13, 2011 at 10:29 AM

I am strangely unmoved by the plight of a couple of nitwits who decide to take a pleasure trip to Mordor.

Travis Bickle on September 13, 2011 at 10:33 AM

It’s like a hotel? What, like the Hanoi Hilton?

Ward Cleaver on September 13, 2011 at 10:33 AM

Del Dolemonte on September 13, 2011 at 10:11 AM

Bernie Goldberg kind of called this one on O’Reilly Monday night, saying there had to be some sort of follow-up on Tuesday to explain Curry’s pathetic interview on Monday.

The next question is — Was there a quid pro quo between Ahmedinejad and NBC News that if they did a suck-up profile of him, the hikers would be released. And — given NBC’s position as Barack Obama’s favorite television network — did the White House basically tell NBC News if you go to Tehran and do a suck-up story on Ahmedinjad, that will help us get the hostages released? If that’s true, then the deal to release the Iranian prisoners is likely a fait accompli, unless Mahmoud screwed over U.S. negotiators by adding this last-minute demand to the mix.

jon1979 on September 13, 2011 at 10:36 AM

Ann Curry was subbing for Bill Clinton, who probably wasn’t interested in reprising his North Korean release mission since these two are males.

Drained Brain on September 13, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Aha! So Bill Clinton is a homophobe! I KNEW IT!

honsy on September 13, 2011 at 10:42 AM

The next question is — Was there a quid pro quo between Ahmedinejad and NBC News that if they did a suck-up profile of him, the hikers would be released. And — given NBC’s position as Barack Obama’s favorite television network — did the White House basically tell NBC News if you go to Tehran and do a suck-up story on Ahmedinjad, that will help us get the hostages released? If that’s true, then the deal to release the Iranian prisoners is likely a fait accompli, unless Mahmoud screwed over U.S. negotiators by adding this last-minute demand to the mix.

jon1979 on September 13, 2011 at 10:36 AM

Yeah, I saw that Bernie interview last night just before going back to watching the New England Patriots Cheat their way to a season-opening win against the Fins. The ESPN crew was having a bad night-one of the studio hosts called Mike Dicka “Coach Parcells” by mistake, and Ron Jaworski said “Sh*t” on-air. Other than that, it was a fun evening, unless you are afflicted with PDS (Patriots Derangement Syndrome).

Reminds me of when CNN covered for Saddam Hussein’s atrocities against his own people for an entire decade, just so they could keep their Baghdad Bureau open.

Del Dolemonte on September 13, 2011 at 10:57 AM

Del Dolemonte on September 13, 2011 at 10:57 AM

I used to hate the Cheatriots worse than anyone but got over it. It was just a film event and they were caught and paid for it. Other teams cheat. I still don’t much like them but I learn to forgive as I ask others to forgive me.

When liberals talk about the folly of invading Iraq or Afghanistan, ask them if they like Iran. See, this is what you get with hateful nut cases running a country. The biggest mistake Bush made was west bank elections since he forgot what kind of leaders angry people select.

Now back to the running exits from Afghanistan and Iraq. That has worked so well in history. Just ask the Brits….

Aside from Donald Trump, do any leaders get it?

IlikedAUH2O on September 13, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Does it mean something that pictures of Ahmadnutjob these days show him without that insane chimpanzee grin of his? Is he an unhappy camper, poor thing?

RebeccaH on September 13, 2011 at 11:51 AM

Wait a minute – how come the US is coughing up a mil to spring the Brain-Dead Twins here? Shouldn’t that money come from mommy and daddy, or somebody else who possibly cares if these geniuses ever see the light of day again?

NOT my tax dollars, thanks. Let ‘em stay.

mojo on September 13, 2011 at 11:55 AM

I’m waiting for the “true” women reporter who says she had an interview in a Muslim country, but refused because she had to wear a sheet on her head and the man she was going to interview didn’t.

Until then I will laugh at sill “feminists” who bow to any non white man. She looked ridiculus. Imagine if the pope had tried to enforce that for an interview.

tottoritodd on September 13, 2011 at 12:08 PM

NBC’s Ann Curry to take credit for this in 3…2…1…..

From Newsbusters yesterday, on her fawning profile of this scary dude:

From beginning to end, Curry’s report sounded more like propaganda on Iranian state television rather than a legitimate news story. She sympathetically declared: “A hard-driving schedule is the norm his aides say, claiming he sleeps just three hours a night and that his days often stretch to 2:00 a.m. They say even Iran’s supreme leader has advised him to sleep more.”

Del Dolemonte on September 13, 2011 at 10:11 AM

Yet apparently he never has time to bathe.

slickwillie2001 on September 13, 2011 at 12:33 PM

I’d tell him to keep the hikers and air drop a few Code Pink whackos and community organizers on them to boot. We could equip them all with decoder rings from Cracker Jacks so they’d actually have some evidence.

trigon on September 13, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Personally, I’m not fully convinced that they are simply lil ol’ innocent hikers who decided to have a picnic walk in the desert right on the Iranian border and – *oopsy* – accidentally crossed into Iran anyway. What I am convinced of is that if those nitwit adults were capable of even getting there on their own in the first place then were actually just ‘hiking’ on the border of Iran, then they were certainly smart enough and well enough equipped to have remained well clear of the actual border. Especially in light of Iran’s relationship with the western world for the last full three decades.

If Iran wants to keep them in prison, so be it. It’s their own damn fault and no one elses whatsoever. NO DEAL!

FlatFoot on September 13, 2011 at 12:55 PM

It’s like a hotel? What, like the Hanoi Hilton?

Ward Cleaver on September 13, 2011 at 10:33 AM

Different franchise, same accomodations.

IrishEyes on September 13, 2011 at 1:18 PM

I’ll believe it when I see it. And I will still loathe Dinnerjacket.

Philly on September 13, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Nice precedent, trading “prisoners”. That wouldn’t make westerners targets for kidnapping in a big way would it? Let the activists serve their time. I’m sure they are soaking up anarchist gold wherever they are while coming up with fairer ideas for holding people in detention in Iran.

BL@KBIRD on September 13, 2011 at 3:18 PM