Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ruled out a prisoner swap to free the three Berkeley hikers held in Iran. Two days ago, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the hikers could be freed if Iranian prisoners in the U.S. were also freed.

Speaking in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Clinton said, “It is hard to know what the Iranian president meant from these press reports of his comments” about a possible exchange of prisoners.

“As we have said repeatedly, we call on Iran to release all the American citizens that they have currently detained,” Clinton said. “We believe they are being unjustly detained and they should be released without further delay.”

Clinton said, “There are no negotiations taking place between the United States and Iran. We believe they should unilaterally release our detained citizens.”

Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley said in a separate briefing on Wednesday, “There’s not really an equivalence, if you will, between an Iranian citizen who has been indicted and/or convicted of arms trafficking in violation of international law and three hikers who wandered across an unmarked border. So I think we’re not interested in a swap, per se.”

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...