U.S. hikers scheduled to appear in court in Iran

By the CNN Wire Staff
July 31, 2011 2:13 a.m. EDT
Shane Bauer, left, and Josh Fattal, center, are shown on trial at the Tehran Revolutionary Court in the Iranian capital in February.
Shane Bauer, left, and Josh Fattal, center, are shown on trial at the Tehran Revolutionary Court in the Iranian capital in February.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer have been held in Tehran for two years
  • Sunday’s hearing is the fourth one that has been scheduled for the hikers
  • Lawyer: Two previous hearings didn’t materialize
  • Iranian media: The lawyer for the U.S. hikers did not meet with them before the hearing
RELATED TOPICS

Tehran, Iran (CNN) — Two American hikers detained in Iran are scheduled to appear in court Sunday, two years to the date of their arrest while hiking near the country’s border with Iraq.

“The time the two have spent in Iranian custody is enough,” said Masoud Shafiei, who represents Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer in Tehran.

“I believe that even if the court finds my clients guilty, the two years that they have already served in prison would be considered as their sentence, and they would be released,” the lawyer told CNN.

Fattal and Bauer could be freed within a week of a court order, according to the lawyer.

“My clients should not be considered spies because they lack the characteristics and backgrounds of spies,” he said.

The lawyer said he hoped his “clients will be dealt with, according to Islamic compassion,” given that their hearing falls on the second anniversary of their arrest and at the start of the holy month of Ramadan, the Iranian Students News Agency reported.

U.S. supporters of the two hikers, who held a rally Friday in front of the Iranian Mission in New York, expressed their hopes for a release as well.

“The judiciary in Iran says it will be the final hearing,” Laura Fattal, mother of Josh Fattal, said in a news release Friday. “We hope and pray that this is true.”

Sunday’s hearing is the fourth one that has been scheduled for the two, according to the news agency.

Two previously scheduled hearings did not materialize, “due to not transferring” the Americans to court, the news agency reported Sunday, quoting their lawyer.

The lawyer did not meet with his clients ahead of Sunday’s court date, the news agency reported.

“I tried to meet with my clients before the hearing session, but I failed,” the lawyer told the news agency.

Two years ago, the two men, both 29, along with Bauer’s fiancee, Sarah Shourd, were hiking in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region along the border.

Iranian police arrested the three Americans, saying they illegally entered Iran. They were also charged with spying.

The Tehran Prosecutor’s office has “compelling evidence” that the three were cooperating with U.S. intelligence agencies, Iran’s state-run Press TV reported.

Shourd was released in September 2010 for medical reasons after 410 days of solitary confinement. She joined family members and supporters who rallied outside Iran’s mission at the United Nations Friday.

Shourd said the hikers did not know they had crossed the border while hiking.

Fattal and Bauer have pleaded not guilty to the charges. Under Iran’s Islamic law, spying is punishable by death.

CNN’s Shirzad Bozorgmehr contributed to this report.

~ by fredfelleman on July 30, 2011.

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