IRAN: American hikers' trial delayed -- again -- without explanation
According to their lawyer, neither Shane Bauer, a freelance journalist who has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, nor his pal Joshua Fattal, were even brought to the courtroom on Wednesday, which was the next scheduled hearing in their ongoing trial on security charges.
"The hikers were not fetched from the jail to court," said Masoud Shafii, their Tehran attorney, who said he submitted a complaint to the court.
Authorities offered no explanation for the delay. Neither did they announce a new trial date. They're being held inside Tehran's infamous Evin Prison as they face charges of espionage and trespassing.
The two 28-year-olds, along with Bauer's fiancee Sarah Shourd, were arrested and jailed by Iranian authorities on July 31, 2009, along the unmarked, mountainous border separating western Iran from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq. Shourd was released in September on $500,000 bail.
Diplomats and journalists waited for more than four hours in front of the court. An official from the Swiss Embassy, which represents U.S. interests in Iran in the absence of formal relations between the two countries, said a request to attend any court session had been rejected.
Iran demands that several alleged arms smugglers now being held in U.S. prisons be released, although it has rejected any proposed exchange of prisoners.
-- Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran
Photo: A picture released by Iran's state-run Press TV on Feb. 6 shows U.S. hikers Shane Bauer, left, and Joshua Fattal, detained in Iran on spying charges, attending the first session of their trial at the Tehran Revolutionary Court in the Iranian capital. Credit: AFP / Getty Images