Swiss probe tourist arrests in Iran

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The Swiss ambassador to Tehran is trying to obtain information on three American backpackers arrested for crossing into Iran.

Baghdad -- The Swiss ambassador to Tehran is continuing to try to obtain information concerning three Americans arrested by Iran for crossing into the country from Iraq, the United States said on Sunday.

State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood said in comments forwarded by the US Embassy in Baghdad that embassy staff in the Iraqi capital had also met with and provided consular support to a fourth American who had been travelling with the trio.

"The Swiss ambassador continues to work on obtaining information from Iranian authorities regarding the three Americans," Wood said in the remarks.

Washington does not have diplomatic ties with the Islamic republic and Switzerland represents its interests in Tehran.

"Embassy consular officers have met with and provided appropriate consular assistance to the fourth American," Wood said.

"Similarly, we have been in touch with and are assisting the family members of the missing three Americans. Out of respect for the privacy of these individuals, we are unable to provide further detail at this time."

Iranian state television said on Saturday that three American tourists had been arrested after crossing the border with Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

"An informed Iranian source confirmed the arrest of three Americans after they infiltrated through the Iraqi border," the Arabic-language Al-Alam state television reported.

Beshro Ahmed, media adviser for general security in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, on Saturday identified the three as US backpackers.

He said the two men and a woman were arrested on Friday after being warned on the Iraqi side not to hike in the mountains because of the proximity of the border with Iran which is not clearly marked.

A fourth American did not join the trek because he was ill.

Ahmed named the three as Shane Bower, Sara Short and Joshua Steel, while Shaun Gabriel Maxwell stayed behind in their hotel in the Kurdish region's second largest city of Sulaimaniyah.

AFP / Expatica

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