TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian official said Tuesday the country has no plans to swap three American prisoners for a missing nuclear scientist who Tehran claims was abducted by the U.S.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said it is not Iran’s practice to “exchange people whose cases are still with the judiciary” and dismissed suggestions that the fate of the three Americans is linked to that of scientist Shahram Amiri.
“These two cases are not comparable,” Mehmanparast told reporters in Tehran. “Iran will use legal channels to secure the release of Amiri.”
Iran claims the scientist, who disappeared while on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, was abducted by the U.S. in 2009.
The three Americans — Sarah Shourd, her boyfriend, Shane Bauer of Minnesota, and their friend Josh Fattal — were arrested along the Iraqi border last July. Iran has accused them of espionage and entering the country illegally. Their families say the three were hiking in Iraq’s largely peaceful mountainous northern Kurdish region and that if they crossed the border, it was accidental.