Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today said he intends to release two American journalists accused of, and jailed for, espionage and grant them a “unilateral pardon.” There was certainly no evidence of espionage, but in Iranian courts no evidence is needed. They could have been kept much longer, but Mahmoud possibly made this gesture – this “unilateral humanitarian gesture,” as he put it – to curry some favor amidst the growing international pressure being put on Iran. If so, it is the same reason the Iranian foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, called on Syria to recognize the “legitimate” demands of the protestors. As the NY Times recently reported,
The United States and some European nations have called on Mr. Assad to step down and are trying to tighten sanctions against the Syrian government and individual people and groups seen to be aiding it. That has affected Iran, as well; in the past week, the European Union announced that it was putting sanctions on the secretive Al Quds wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, saying it was providing technical and material support for Syria’s crackdown on demonstrators.