Iranian PresidentÂ MahmoudÂ Ahmadinejad joked he is so serious about making sure Iran advancesÂ technologicallyÂ that he'd volunteer to go to space for his country if needed.
"I am ready to be the first human to be sent to space by Iranian scientists,â€ť he said after meeting Monday with Iranian space scientists,Â accordingÂ to the semi-officialÂ Mehr News Agency.
The president's comments, made in jest, came a week after the state's semi-official Fars News Agency said IranÂ had "sent a monkey to the orbit, brought it back to the Earth and retrieved the animal and the relevant data successfully."
Iranian authorities have arrested several journalists, including the editor-in-chief of a leading reformist newspaper, on accusations of collaborating with the regime's opponents and working for foreign news organizations.
Acting on a court-issued warrant, security officers detained several journalists at their work places Sunday, the semi-official Mehr News Agency reported. The publications raided by officials included the newspapers Etemaad, Bahar, Arman and Shargh, it said.FULL STORY
An Iranian air force helicopter crashed Wednesday, killing all 10 people on board, according to the semiofficial Fars News Agency.
"The helicopter was carrying five people who had been injured earlier in a road accident, as well as four crew members and one medic," a medical official was quoted as saying.
The five passengers worked for the Ministry of Education, another official said.
The crash took place near a hospital in the holy city of Mashad.
American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were released from an Iranian prison Wednesday and made their way to Oman.
The two Americans were released on bail of $500,000 each and their sentences were commuted, Iran's judiciary said, according to government-run Press TV.
Bauer and Fattal, both 29, were convicted last month of entering Iran illegally and spying for the United States, and each was sentenced to eight years in prison.
[Updated at 5:28 p.m. ET] Released U.S. hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer made brief statements to assembled media after arriving in Oman.
"We are so happy we are free, and so relieved we are free," Fattal said. "Our deepest gratitude goes towards his majesty, Sultan Qaboos of Oman, for obtaining our release. We are sincerely grateful (to) the government of Oman for hosting us an our families."
Bauer said: "Two years in prison is too long, and we sincerely hope for the freedom of other political prisoners and other unjustly imprisoned people in American and Iran."
They departed after making the statements and took no questions.
[Updated at 4:28 p.m. ET] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the following statement regarding the hikers' release:
"I join President Obama in welcoming the decision made by Iranian authorities to release Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal from detention. After more than two years, they will finally be reunited with their friends and families.
"I am grateful for the efforts of all those who have worked for their release, in particular the Swiss Protecting Power in Tehran, the Omani government, the Iraqi government, and the many other world leaders who have raised their voices in support, as well as those inside Iran who pushed for justice."