May 21st, 2010
12:55 PM ET

Two detained Iranians freed in Iraq

Two Iranians detained for years in Iraq by U.S. troops have been freed and are headed home, officials at the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad told CNN on Friday.

The release comes as the mothers of three imprisoned American hikers visit their incarcerated children in Iran. The mothers have been imploring the Iranian regime to release them.

But Iranian officials said the release of the two in Iraq has no connection to the status of the three hikers.

Ahmed Barazandeh was arrested seven years ago by U.S. troops in the Iraqi city of Samarra. He had been traveling from Najaf to Samarra on a religious pilgrimage and was detained after he separated from his group.

The second man - identified by officials at Iran's Baghdad Embassy as Abdullah Maleki and by Iran's Press TV as Ali Abdulmalek - was arrested by U.S. troops more than two years ago because he was not carrying a passport when he entered Iraq.

Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Iran's ambassador to Iraq, is quoted by Press TV as saying the abductees were arrested on "baseless charges and (for) not carrying passports," he said. The ambassador said both men were on a pilgrimage to Iraqi holy cities when they were seized.

The Iraqi government secured their release from a prison controlled by U.S. forces within the framework of a security agreement signed between Baghdad and Washington in 2008.

The move could be significant because Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad publicly called for a swap when asked in a newspaper interview in May about the possible release of the hikers.

Last week, a French woman arrested in Iran on espionage charges was released and an Iranian who had been in a French prison for 19 years was freed. But it is not known whether that was a swap.

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Filed under: Iran • Iraq
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. michael

    just release the Hikers they made a mistake

    May 21, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      Yes, but they chose to make that mistake, they chose to be in a dangerouse area, and fair or not, they made a mistake that they must now pay the consiquences for, and we will probably end up paying for their stupidity via the tax dollar. Sigh, more idiots need rescuing, big surprise.

      May 21, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jphilly08

    I don't blame iran, we would detain iranian "hikers" if they wandered over the mexican border. We have detained many iranians in iraq

    May 21, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sendthemhome

      They don't arrest Mexicans that cross the Mexican border, what makes you think Iranians would be? They would probably just go to Lost Angeles.

      May 21, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. L2Read

    Michael – please learn to read. The release of these two IRANIANS IN IRAQ has nothing to do with AMERICAN hikers in IRAN.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shinea

      It might do to take your own advise. The story also says that Ahmadinejad called for a swap to release the hikers. Implicit in the story is that the two ARE connected. There is more to any story then the words that are written, there are also the words that are not written but are derived from the context. That is what reading about.

      May 21, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Liberal4Obama

    Even if it's nor related I just hope the hikers get to come home, their moms hearts would be broken if they have to come back stateside without them

    May 21, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Karen

    They can't officially make a swap, being forced to 'negotiate' looks bad on the American government, but it is probably a good faith effort to secure their release. Along with the detained hiker's mother's giving statements on TV about how kind their Iranian hosts are. Both our culture are very big on saving face, and unofficial swaps of prisoners is a good way for both countries to appear generous – not pressured or conceding. Whatever gets these Americans home (whose 'wandering' over the border just after the two American reporters in North Korea were released makes it very fishy) and ends this stand off.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. oscar

    michael,
    we r living in a time of war and unfortunately the fact that they made a mistake is not enough... our gov detains individuals for years without formally charging the detainy. sad as it maybe we will suffer casualties of our own. we must end these wars its the only way. i find it hard to believe that eith all our military strength we cant get Bin Laden... i think our gov doesnt want to get him...

    May 21, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rob

    What would Sheriff Joe do if he three iranian hikers wandered across the arizona border?

    May 21, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dan

    Oh no! The Halliburtons, the Blackwaters, the Zionists and the neo cons are going to hate this sign of possible improving relations with Iran.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sepideh

    This was mind puzzling to me from the beginning, what are 3 American hikers doing in the Iranian boarder? I mean we have so many great places all over the united states, Europe, Australia, Africa but no they had to hike where there is a war zone, just give the government of Iran some credit, at least they are treating these people with respect until they decide to let them go.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • behrouz

      Barikallah Seppideh for standing up for your principals. Unfortunately many Iranian broad bend so easy.

      May 21, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roberts Richard

      lets just hope that the Iranians wont keep them for 2 or maybe 7 years

      May 21, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. oscar

    not everyone detained by our military is a terrorist... and many are unlawfully detained everyone has a mother, wife and family, arabs and mexicans included everyone deserves to have their civil rights respected.... we also need to stop hiking in troubled regions. its BS that people put themselves in harms way intetionally

    May 21, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris

      the VAST,VAST VAST majority of those detained by our military are in-fact terrorists, or deserve to be locked up. There are of course mistakes made. However, a huge percentage of the "innocent" men we have since released have been found to be terrorists afterall, fighting us in pakistan and elsewhere. Just because some guy has a family doesnt mean that we should forgive him if he bombed a market and killed women and children, or cut the head off of a girl because she was found smiling at Americans.

      May 21, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Chris, they are fighting us because we invaded their country and are occupying their country.

      May 21, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tom

    I, along with all Americans, want these kids to come home. However, you must realize the stupidity these three displayed in getting caught in the first place. They were told by Iraqi guides and those who live in the region to STAY AWAY from the place where they were caught. They didn't listen, and now are facing the consequences. How incredibly naive to think, "Hey, we're just hikers; they won't do anything to us." Talk about a very hard lesson learned.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Syphon Filter

    This is why staring wars isn't good. Everyone wants the American hikers to come home so that they can be with their families and their mothers, but how about the Iranian detainees by the US troops in Iraq. Or the other countless Iraqi's, Iranians and Pakistani's who are imprisoned in Abhu Gharib and in Guantanamo bay. They all have a right to see and be with their families especially if they have not done anything.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris

      we don't just incarcerate people for"doing nothing"...of course there will be some mistakes made, innocents imprisoned...but not many, and they will be released. The ones in prison are there for a reason. You think they care about your rights? They would rather videotape your beheading, even if you were on their side. You know how many anti-war, pro-peace protesters were kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Iraq...ALOT. These people dont care.

      May 21, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Chris, Iraqis were never this anti American that they would behead you even if you were on their side, like you say they did, until we invaded and occupied thier country. Do you think you would be nice to someone who invaded and occupied your home?

      May 21, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • behrouz

      Unfortunately this is the reality of power by domination theory that worked for several decades by the force, wars and coupes. But this theory has lost steam especially in the past decade due to its self-destructing nature and it will continue to loose steam untill there is a real balance of power in the world, that is of course if you believe in opportunities for all.

      May 21, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dan

    Wait a minute... I thought Iraq and Iran was the same place.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • sepideh

      Dan, I don't know you my friend, but the only thing in common between Iran and Iraq is their boarder and some of Iraqis are sheath (Muslims ) like all Iranians,the majorities are Sunnite, but geographically speaking you can also Google map and see where they are located. Iraqis also speak Arabic but Iranians speak Persian and don't understand a word they say.

      May 21, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patel

      Sorry to dissappoint you Dan ... they are not ... and even my 4 year old knows that.

      May 21, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jackola

      Wait a minute, don't you guys detect the facetiousness in in Dan's post???

      May 21, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mike

    Now the US just needs to free Marc Emery !

    May 21, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ricky

    See that's the thing about americans they love to push the limits even when told not to do so you disobey you get punished plain and simple.

    May 21, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
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