The government of Iran confirmed Tuesday that it has detained three American tourists.
In recent broadcasts, Iranian state media claimed their case was being used by the West as propaganda against Iran.
U.S. State Department officials said the Americans were sightseeing in northern Iraq near the Iranian border. The three hikers were captured by Iranian border guards after wandering into Iran by mistake.
Iran state media said the three were warned not to cross the border, but a fourth friend who stayed behind with a cold said they became lost.
The detentions come at a tense time in U.S.-Iranian relations.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has appealed to the Iranian government for information about the U.S. citizens.
"Obviously we are concerned, and call on Iranian government to help us determine the whereabouts of the three missing Americans," Clinton told reporters Monday.
Iran has accused the U.S. of fomenting protests following the June election and of meddling with its nuclear program.