Three U.S. citizens detained in Iran and charged with espionage will stand trial, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said yesterday, in a case that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called “totally unfounded.”


The three were held after they strayed into Iran from northern Iraq at the end of July, further complicating relations between Tehran and Washington that were already deadlocked over Iran’s nuclear program.


“They have entered Iran with suspicious aims. The judiciary will try them,” Mottaki told a news conference, adding that “relevant sentences” would be issued. He did not elaborate.


Clinton repeated the U.S. government position that the charges were totally unfounded and the hikers should be released.