The US has asked Iran to immediately release three American hikers detained for nearly nine months for allegedly entering the country illegally and expressed concern over the deterioration of their health.
"We ask the Islamic Republic of Iran to release these three Americans and allow them to go home and be reunited with their families," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
The three detained American hikers -- are Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd.
They were held on July 31 last year for illegally entering the country from Iraq's Kurdistan region, according to Iran's state-run media. They were sent to Evin prison in Tehran.
"We are disturbed by the families' reports of their children's physical and emotional health," Clinton said.
These three Americans, innocent tourists in Iraq's Kurdistan region when they were detained last year, have been unjustly held for almost nine months without formal charges or access to legal representation, she said.
White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, too made a similar statement, saying the US remains "deeply concerned" over the issue.
"We urgently call on the Islamic Republic of Iran to resolve the cases of all missing and detained American citizens in Iran, including Robert Levinson who has been missing in Iran since March 2007," he said.
Gibbs said the US remains "deeply concerned" by the case of the three American hikers, "who have been detained in Iran without charge or access to legal representation since July 2009."
"While we welcome the decision by the Iranian authorities to allow Shane, Sarah and Josh to receive another Swiss consular visit at long last, we were deeply alarmed to learn from the families today of their physical and emotional state of health," he said.
"We fear their well-being will suffer even more unless their case is resolved without delay. We strongly believe these urgent developments are additional reasons for the government of Iran to release them immediately," Gibbs said.
The White House Press Secretary said these three innocent Americans have been in detention in Iran without formal charges or access to legal representation as stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
"There is absolutely no justification for their detention, and they should be released without further delay," he said.