Digest

Digest: Iran signals possible prisoner swap

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi greets supporters as he arrives to cast his vote at a polling station in Adwa, Ethiopia.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi greets supporters as he arrives to cast his vote at a polling station in Adwa, Ethiopia. (Simon Maina/afp/getty Images)
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Monday, May 24, 2010

IRAN

Tehran hints at prisoner swap

In one of the strongest signals yet that Iran wants to swap three Americans jailed in the Islamic republic for Iranians held by the United States, Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi said Sunday that he expects "a humanitarian gesture" by the United States.

Moslehi referred to a Tehran visit last week by the mothers of Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fattal, who were arrested in July during what they say was a hiking trip in the mountainous border region between Iraq and Iran.

"Our expectation is that the Americans, who claim [to support] human rights, should take a similar humanitarian measure so that we can progress the discussion to the point of deciding whether or not there would be a swap," Moslehi was quoted as saying by the semiofficial Fars News Agency.

Iranian officials have been floating a list with the names of 11 Iranians who they say are in U.S. custody in the United States or in third countries. A French national held in the Islamic Republic was recently freed after French authorities released an Iranian businessman wanted by the United States.

-- Thomas Erdbrink

YEMEN

Cleric calls for killing of U.S. civilians

A U.S.-born cleric who has encouraged Muslims to kill American soldiers called for the killing of American civilians in his first video released by a Yemeni offshoot of al-Qaeda, providing the most overt link yet between the radical preacher and the terrorist group.

Dressed in a white Yemeni robe and a turban, with a traditional jambiya dagger tucked into his waistband, Anwar al-Aulaqi used the 45-minute video posted Sunday to justify civilian deaths -- and encourage them -- by accusing the United States of intentionally killing a million Muslim civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

American civilians are to blame, he said, because "the American people, in general, are taking part in this, and they elected this administration, and they are financing the war."


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